Posts Tagged ‘Brian Jacques’

At 71 years old, Brian Jacques, best known for his Redwall series, passed away over the weekend (February 5th 2011). He died of a heart attack.

I was first introduced to his writings by watching the Redwall cartoon series on PBS (now TPT). Later I came across the first book in a rummage sale, which I bought for a dollar. From then on I was hooked.

For those of you who enjoyed his stories as much as I did, you will understand how much he will be missed. I offer his two sons and wife my sincere condolences, and pray that God would provide them with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

Rest in peace, Brian Jacques. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent with us.

For more information about the Redwall books, visit http://www.redwall.org .

Advertisements

Warriors v1If you liked the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, you’re gonna love Warriors. That is, if you like cats who act like cats. Mice, rabbits, and birds have the same kind of presence that fish do in Redwall: food. Matthias and Basil Stag Hare would not be in a good position here.

The author, Erin Hunter, is actually not a person, but three people: Kate Cary (takes turn writing), Cherith Baldry (takes turn writing), and Victoria Holmes (comes up with ideas and monitors consistency). All live in the UK, and as quoted in the back of the book, are:

“. . . inspired by a love of cats and a fascination with the ferocity of the natural world.”

Story overview:

A young “kittypet”–or so called by the Clans–named Rusty, lives a pleasant and comfortable life among the “twoleggs.” Though he spends many hours sitting on a fence looking into the forest, it wasn’t until he became bold enough to go exploring that his life changed.

While exploring, he was attacked by a cat named Graypaw. After fighting him off, other cats from the ThunderClan approached him. They make him an offer: join their clan and give up his “kittypet” life forever, and he will live as free cat. After giving it some thought, he decided to join.

Life became difficult for Rusty, who was given a new name (Firepaw), and a new home. He learns what it means to be a part of something, to work hard, to have real friends, and to eat like a real cat. Once things start to fall into place, life for him becomes even more complicated when one of the other clans decides to take over all the territories. Now the lessons really begin as ThunderClan fights back, and the lives of his clan depend upon him.

My thoughts:

The names thrown out at the beginning are enough to make one’s head spin, but amazingly enough they are not that hard to follow. Hunter seems to have taken a Native American’ish approach to them: Bluestar, Lionheart, Tigerclaw, Spottedleaf, Ravenpaw, Speckletail, etc. As an author myself, there’s a few areas where I would question the quality of the writing (adverb city, such as “Yellowfang replied dryly.” and “Firepaw meowed urgently;” as well as overuse of exclamation points and italics) but regardless of this, it flows pretty well. I would call this book a page turner and a must read for kids (and some adults too). The one thing that bothered me though–and perhaps I just missed it–has to do with the whole nine lives thing. Why did some cats–particularly one of the younger ones–die when being killed, yet another, older cat came back? I was confused here. And whatever happened to the fox which was hinted at?

Things to consider:

This is not your average Politically Correct tale. There are strong elements of ferocity (as mentioned by the author.) Where I believe that’s part of what makes this story so genuine, I would caution some kids, whom it may be a little freighting for. Nature is very relevant in this tale, and anyone who’s watched a nature show knows things can be dicey. I would age rate this at around eight + (tweens and older,) and for both girls and boys. No bad language and no sexual references, but as mentioned, very violent (and I don’t mean violent for the sake of violence, but rather for the sake of realism.)

Opportunities for discussion:

Death, survival, bravery, and courage are strong themes in this tale. Among them are deceit, betrayal, blame, and bias. Talk to your kids about the price of freedom. Share with them the flaws of living a soft and easy life, and tell them that they need to work hard for what they have. There’s no room for laziness in the world of nature or the world of man. Also, in the case of Yellowfang, we learn that things are not always as they seem. We should not judge and blame without knowing the facts. Innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Ask your kids if they have ever done this only to find out later that they were wrong about the person.

RedwallI remember one Saturday morning, as I was surfing channels, I happened across a cartoon called “Redwall”. There were mice walking around on their back legs and talking as if they were human. At first I was a little unsure of what to think, but after sticking with it for the entire half hour, I found myself enjoying what I saw. Several weeks and episodes later I was hooked.
 
One day, while browsing a table of books at an “Animal Humane Society” rummage sale, I saw a cover with a little mouse holding a sword and shield. The name “Redwall” jumped out at me and I instantly remembered the cartoon. It was then that I realized the story was first published as a book series, and needless to say, I purchased it right away–for only a buck too. Shortly after, my collection began to expand with other titles from the series.

Story overview:

A horse drawn hay cart, out of control and filled with a band of nasty rats, ends up toppling over not far from a peace loving Church.  However, these rats are anything but peace loving, particularly the evil-one-eyed warlord, Cluny, the Scourge, and so they invade the Church and capture it, taking the residents prisoner.
 
Not far away is, “Redwall Abbey”, which is a place of prosperity and good natured animals. One of which is an awkward little mouse named Matthias.
 
Cluny realizes that the “Redwall Abbey” would be a great fortress, and so he gathers rats, ferrets, stoats, and weasels to take it over. However, the inhabitants, though uneducated in the ways of war, fight to keep the invaders from breaking through their Abbey walls. As Cluny and his gang lay siege, Matthias goes on a mission to recover a legendary weapon to use against Cluny. During his journey, Matthias creates bonds with various animals and finds himself up against many unexpected trials.
 
My thoughts:

This is a cute story. I enjoyed the characters and situations they were put in, particularly the scavenger hunt (to find the legendary sword) that takes place in the Abbey, along with the antics of Basil Stag Hare.
 
Things to consider:

I would say that this story would be good for both girls and boys around the age of eight. There are some violent scenes–much more vividly depicted in the book than in the cartoon, deaths (not in the cartoon that I remember), and a few instances of excessive drinking, but otherwise this is a nice, clean story.
 
Opportunities for discussion:
 
You could share with your children, that even though they may feel a little clumsy and unsure of themselves, God can use them for great things. Also, you can share your thoughts with them on drinking and the need to kill (not murder) in situations of war when protecting the lives of those around you.