Written in the First Person perspective, this is the first book published by Patrick Carman (in 2003). There appears to be five books in the Land of Elyon series, and one of them is a prequel.
A twelve-year-old girl named Alexa Daley lives in a land surrounded by a large, un-scalable wall. She frequently visits a town called Bridewell with her father (who is the mayor of another town), and on this particular occasion—with the help of her mother’s spyglass—she sees something moving outside of the walls.
Of course it is not only forbidden to cross to the other side, but seemingly impossible; it is guarded by the cantankerous Pervis Kotcher and his men. The dark hills and forest of Elyon [on the other side] are dangerous, or at least, that’s what Alexa had been told. Eventually her curiosity outweighs the risks, and with the help of some unforeseen circumstances, she finds a way.
On the outside she meets some talking animals (who can communicate with her by the help of a special gem) who tell her that the wall unintentionally separated many of their families. On top of that, Alexa finds out that the prisoners used to build the walls many years ago are now living free in Elyon. They are plotting to attack Bridewell with the help of someone on the inside. With assistance from a talking rabbit named Malcolm, and a small man named Yipes, Alexa tries to find out who she can trust and warn them of the impending danger.
I liked this one. Like most fantasy, this borrows some ideas from other novels, but unlike most fantasy, the main plot is fairly unique. Also, there were times I almost forgot I was reading a fantasy and wondered if I was in a mystery. Interesting approach from the author and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Things to consider:
This is a pretty clean tale. The worst that could be said are the lies told by the central character, Alexa. But even she admits that she hates telling them. I would propose this for preteens and older. Good for both girls and boys.
Opportunities for discussion:
A wall was built to protect the citizens of the city, but in actuality, all it did was shut them out from the rest of the world. There is much allegory that can be taken from this idea, especially for Christians. It is easy for the modern believer to become comfortable and keep to their own little circle, but it isn’t until we reach beyond this that we actually begin to grow. Ask your children if they are being walled up and how that makes them feel.