Redwall ~ Brian Jacques

First of the twenty-two book series, Redwall tells the story of Matthias – a seemingly normal mouse who trips on too-large sandals and aspires to be like Martin the Warrior – as he defends his home, the animals he cares about, and finds his strength and purpose along the way.

Synopsis: (From the back cover)

“It is the Summer of the Late Rose, and the gentle mice of Mossflower Wood are gathered at the ancient stone abbey of Redwall, celebrating a year of peace and abundance. But a sinister shadow has fallen across the abbey. For it is rumored that Cluny is coming – Cluny, the terrible one-eyed rat and his battle-season horde; Cluny, whose vow is to conquer Redwall.”

Review:

Although this is considered a book for children, it felt like a long read. Every page was dense with imagery, wonderfully crafted scenes and sentences, and well-rounded characters that made it impossible to speed read – WHICH IS A GOOD THING.

It was a pleasure to sit down and be immersed so deeply in a story without just skimming the pages to get through it. Matthias was such a fun character to follow. He starts out as this klutzy, goofy little mouse but he grows into a strong and confident protector. I think there is a deeper message in his development about facing challenges and adversity. Without the challenges and determination of Matthias to defend the Abbey and find the sword of Martin, he would never have grown or changed. He would have stayed the same and wouldn’t have experienced his true potential and strength.

Aside from the deeper themes at work in Redwall, the animals all came to life with such vivid personalities. Each animal had their own unique traits that were comical to see brought together. The church mice were caring and thoughtful while the badger was defensive and tough. Each animal had their own role to play in defending the Abbey, or in trying to tear it down.

The villains, the horde of rats and other enlisted creatures, were ruthless in their attempts to claim the Abbey as Cluny’s Castle. Through elaborate excursions and deceitful tactics they ran several campaigns to claim victory and had personalities and loyalties (or lack of) all their own.

Brian Jacques’s writing brought this book to life. The way scenes were crafted brought the energy and intensity of battle to center stage, painted the forest and Mossflower Wood in vivid detail, and showed the cunning minds of warriors both good and bad. This was my first taste of the Redwall series, but it won’t be the last, for I am eager to see what other adventures take place.

Teacher Recommendation:

I would recommend this book to any student – especially students who enjoy adventure or fantasy. This book would be great for both girls and boys, but I would recommend it especially to my boy students who might be able to pick up on the deeper themes about boyhood. As they grow in their own lives, they can see Matthias growing and facing his own challenges. Definitely one to put on the shelves. I would say reading level is appropriate and occasionally challenging for students as young as ten to twelve.

Happy reading!

Amanda

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