Thursday, October 17, 2019

Indiana Jones meets Earthsea--with airships: Hûw Steer's The Blackbird and the Ghost

Title: The Blackbird and the Ghost
Series: The Boiling Seas (Book 1)
Author: Hûw Steer
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 252


What Goodreads has to say:

The Boiling Seas are the mariner’s bane – and the adventurer’s delight. The waters may be hot enough to warp wood and boil a hapless swimmer, but their scalding expanse is full of wonders. Strange islands lurk in the steamy mists, and stranger ruins hold ancient secrets, remnants of forgotten empires waiting for the bold… or lying in wait for the unwary.

On the Corpus Isles, gateway to the Boiling Seas, Tal Wenlock, the Blackbird, seeks a fortune of his own. The treasure he pursues could change the world – but he just wants to change a single life, and it’s not his own. To reach it, he’ll descend into the bowels of the earth and take ship on burning waters, brave dark streets and steal forbidden knowledge. He’ll lie, cheat, steal and fight – but he won’t get far alone. The ghosts of Tal’s past dog his every step – and one in particular keeps his knives sharp.

The Blackbird will need help to reach his goal… and he’ll need all his luck to get back home alive.

What I have to say:

It must be my birthday or something, because I keep getting sent these awesome books to review. On the same day I finished listening to Rob Keeley's adorable MG ghost story Childish Spirits, I also turned the final page of Hûw Steer's thrilling fantasy adventure The Blackbird and the Ghost

This book is kind of like Indiana Jones meets Earthsea. Tal Wenlock is a tomb-robber with magical powers. Sounds awesome, right?

It is.

But it's about to get even more awesome when I tell you that there are also sailing ships, boiling waves, ancient libraries, deep dark mines, and world-building that will make you stop and exclaim: "Yes! That's how you do it!"

In other words, this book is my dream come true.

I've got a thing for archaeology. (I'm kind of obsessed with Howard Carter and the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb.) I also love magic, stories of adventure, and far-off places. And clearly I've got a thing for books or I wouldn't be writing this blog.

This book has literally all those things and more! WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE? THIS IS LITERALLY MY DREAM BOOK. WAIT DID I ALSO MENTION THERE ARE AIRSHIPS???

OK. Deep breath. I'll try to settle down and talk about this book in more sensible terms. 

Let's start at the very beginning.

Oh yeah, there might be some minor....







********************************SPOILERS*************************************







The beginning of this book is actually the end.

And talking about the way this book is structured is almost sending me into another geek out session, but I'll try to stay calm for the sake of my hapless, captive readers.

The story starts with Tal Wenlock--alias The Blackbird, famed tomb-raider--breaking into the tomb of his career. He's after an ancient scroll with magical properties, and no mission has ever been so important to him.

The prologue follows Tal as he breaks into the tomb and makes his way toward the sarcophagus of the king, avoiding one deadly trap after another in pursuit of his object. It's so intense and it's so boss that we're not even told his name until the very last sentence! 

Then there's a sudden, totally unforeseen disaster, and then the chapter ends and we go back to three weeks before!

I can't even with this book. It's so freaking cool.

Because the whole time I'm reading from here on out, my mind keeps flashing back to that prologue and what happened at the end of it, and internally I'm screaming, but I'm also strangely invested in what's happening on the page in front of me right now, and I'm rooting for Tal so hard even though I know what lies at the end of his journey. 

I'm hoping against hope that once we get there, once we return to that moment, there will be something I missed the first time around and it will all be all right after all. Man.

On the subject of rooting for Tal, he's definitely someone to root for. A thieving tomb-raider with a strong interest in history, a respect for the dead, and a love of thick books, I mean, what's not to love? 

He's also very good at what he does, and his skills at everything from lock-picking to locating rare books to evading certain death are, to say the least, impressive.

The other characters are great too. Max is a scholarly young doctor and historian who, upon very slim persuasion, gets pulled into Tal's illegal quest for a mythic item. She doesn't fit the mold of the average sidekick, and for that she's way cool.

Mikhail is a seriously terrifying rival tomb-raider who I assume is the "ghost" of the title. I love the effect he has on Tal because it makes Tal himself more vulnerable and relatable as a character. He's a competent, thrill-seeking tomb-raider with serious survival skills, but he's not fearless. The idea of Mikhail stalking him makes Tal's hands shake.

Also, side note: I just love that Tal is a tomb-raider who also digs libraries, is super nice to people, and goes to therapy. He's a total boss but he's also kind of adorable.

Besides awesome characters, another thing this author does really well is world-building. All the places--the coastal town of Fort Malice with its wharf and maze-like streets, the chilling ruins of the Sydren Mines and the forbidding tomb on the island of The Palm--they all feel so vivid and real.

This story is richly painted: you can almost feel the salt wind on your face as Tal walks the streets of Fort Malice, hear the sinister velvet of Mikhail's voice, taste the stale air of the ancient tombs. 

I felt like I was right there with Tal from start to finish, shadowing him on his quest for the scroll, because all the scenes, sights, and even Tal's private emotions had such immediacy to them. 

Long story short: 

Loved this book. Hope there's a sequel in the works. Send it my way.

(And keep sending me awesome books, everyone.)

Rating:










Until tomorrow.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A perfect Halloween read (or listen): Rob Keeley's Childish Spirits Audiobook


Title: Childish Spirits
Author: Rob Keeley
Genre: MG Fantasy / Ghosts
Listening Length: 3 hrs and 26 min
Read by: Sally Millest
(Or you can listen for free with a 30-day Audible Trial)

Blurb:

When Ellie and her family move into Inchwood Manor, Ellie quickly discovers strange things are happening. Who is the mysterious boy at the window? What secrets lie within the abandoned nursery? Who is the woman who haunts Ellie’s dreams - and why has she returned to the Manor, after more than a century? Ellie finds herself entangled in a Victorian mystery of ghosts and tunnels and secret documents - and discovers that life all those years ago isn’t so different from the world she knows today.... Rob Keeley’s first novel for children brings out all the ingredients of the classic ghost story within a recognizable modern world setting.

Listeners of his short story collections for children will find in Childish Spirits the elements which made his past books such a success - strong and contemporary characters, inventive twists on traditional themes, and a winning combination of action, suspense, and humor.

Erin's take:

Childish Spirits is an adorable book. As in, I adored it from start to finish. It's also adorable in the sense that its characters and story are charming and sweet. 

But it's not just a "cute" story. There's a strong creep factor (it's a book about ghosts, so I'd hope so), and talk of some deep issues like divorce, class prejudice, and suicide. Also, it's incredibly well-written. 

As read by Sally Millest, it's doubly enjoyable. Of course, a big part of my personal enjoyment probably stemmed from the fact that she has a great English accent and as an American, I'm a succor for that. But she also reads with beautiful flow and expression. Animated by Millest's lively yet sensitive voice, the characters are vibrant and vivid, each with a unique, strong personality.

Let's talk about the characters, shall we? Edward, the ghost of a rich (read: spoiled) 10-year-old, is absolutely adorable. He's also a pain in the rear, but somehow, that makes him not less endearing but more. He's certainly infuriating at times and Ellie deserves a ton of credit for putting up with him. But despite that, I for one grew very attached to him. 

I also love Ellie, the main character. An ambitious if young painter and poet who's about the same age as Edward (and also alive, by the way), she makes for a wonderful heroine. I also found her brother Charlie hilarious. He calls his younger sister "small person," and "miniature one."

I've read plenty of MG novels that bored me. Likewise, I usually have a hard time listening to audiobooks because I'll zone out and miss something important. To prevent this from happening, the book has to be both very well-written and paced, and the reader has to be very dynamic. Otherwise, I probably won't make it to the end.

I'm happy to report that I didn't zone out once during Childish Spirits. Not only is it well read--it's perfectly paced. The story is a flawless blend of suspense, mystery, creepiness, charm, and character development. 

The first few chapters were deliciously creepy in exactly the kind of way I like (I don't really do scary movies but I dig ghostly stuff and am obsessed with E.A. Poe). Then I was curious to know who Edward was and what he died of. Soon a strange new ghost appeared in the house and it was totally creepy and suspenseful again.  

Mystery followed upon mystery: just as Ellie solved one, it would lead to another. Then there was very real danger and needless to say, by this time I was hooked.

While a few of the twists were things I saw coming, this is a MG book, so I feel like that's how it should be. And there were definitely other twists that threw me for a loop. 

In short, Childish Spirits is the kind of MG ghost book I wish every MG ghost book was like. It reminded me of The Graveyard Book and The Children of Green Knowe, except it's probably more exciting than those books (especially Green Knowe, which, though I say it affectionately, has an excitement factor of about 1).

It's also a wonderful October read. Not too scary, but mildly creepy and totally--to use my favorite word because I always will if at all possible--phantasmagoric.

Parts of it made me shiver, parts made me catch my breath, and the end left me smiling. I'll say it again: adorable.

Rating:

















Until tomorrow.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Haunting Edgar Allan Poe in Manhattan: A Travelogue

Once upon a time there was a girl who couldn't get enough Poe.






That girl was me.

Is me. 

I'm obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe.

So much so that I have a goal to visit every single location he lived in. I've been to his birthplace in Boston, his house in Philadelphia, and even (by coincidence) a bed and breakfast he stayed at in Scotland. 

I've also been to his house in the Bronx (Poe Cottage), and seen the bed in which his wife died. I've walked the Highbridge, which is a short distance from Poe Cottage, and which Poe used to walk--almost manically--at all hours of the day. 


Poe Cottage in the Bronx, New York
The Highbridge in the Bronx, New York


But Poe also lived in Manhattan. In about 60 different locations.

OK, that may be an exaggeration, but he certainly got around the city a lot.

This summer, I decided to track down every single site in Manhattan that Poe once lived at and visit all of them--in one day.

I compiled my list from several websites and planned out my route. Then I grabbed my pocket-sized Poe book off the shelf and went on an adventure.

I kept a travelogue of my journey.

Here, as we kick off the absolute best month of the year and get ready to read scary stories and go to haunted houses, is a record of my adventure haunting the steps of Edgar Allan Poe.

.........................................................................................................................

Erin's Ex-Poe-ration of Manhattan


Today I embark on my long anticipated Edgar Allan Poe tour of New York City. One day. 12 locations.* Anything could happen.

(*Excepting Poe Cottage and the Highbridge as I’ve already visited and they’re a little out of the way. Both are in the Bronx and could be done on the same day.)

First stop: Broadway and W 84th St. 


From 1844 to 1845, when the Upper West Side was still farmland, Poe and his wife lived on this corner in a house on a rocky outcropping. Today the corner is flat as a pancake, and I don’t know exactly where the house stood. But the street bears his name, which is a nice touch.


Now down to the end of 84th St for a location that reportedly helped Poe find inspiration for the Raven.

Walk to the end of 84 St and enter Riverside Park. Looking down toward 83rd St, you will see a mound of rock that seems “a swelling of the ground.” Framed by trees and bushes, it feels almost like a hidden woodland shrine. Approach via the dirt path.












When he needed a quiet spot to ponder, surrounded by the beauty of nature, Poe would walk to this rocky hill overlooking the Hudson. He christened the spot “Mount Tom.”


It’s a windy place, a place that, given the right imagination, could be called Romantic and windswept and even gothically sublime. How much more sublime it must have been surrounded by countryside and without the murmur of cars, when you could stand atop Mount Tom and see the Hudson River sparkling below.

As it is, it’s a good place to sit and read “The Raven” which Poe wrote just a few blocks away.


Poe spoke delightedly of the rockiness of Upper Manhattan. It must have inspired him like the moors inspired the Brontes. But he suspected that all too soon, the dramatic landscape would be flattened and paved to make way for buildings.

Next stop is 154 Greenwich St.

It’s a longish ride on the 1 line, so let’s get into some background, shall we?

Poe moved to Manhattan in the 1830s. When he arrived, he was a struggling writer who had yet to publish any big hits. If I’ve calculated correctly, he lived in 10 different locations around the city until he moved in 1847 to Baltimore, where he died two years later. It was in Manhattan and the Bronx that he wrote and published The Raven and nursed his young wife Virginia, who died of tuberculosis in their Bronx farmhouse in 1847.

The next three stops have changed so radically since Poe’s time that it’s nigh impossible to even locate the addresses in question. 154 Greenwich St is now part of the World Trade Center area. 


 O’Hara’s Pub is fairly picturesque; Poe lived where the restaurant now stands, and there is something vaguely Poe-ish about the building’s red brick and wood paneling.


Ann St, on which Poe lived (4 Ann St) and worked (25 Ann St) isn’t much to look at. As far as I can tell, Zara’s now stands where his residence was.



Another of Poe’s residences, 195 E Broadway, is now part of the Manny Cantor Center. Across from it is a beautiful New York Public Library building.




Now to Greenwich Village. It seems only natural that Poe would have lived here, in the charming place so many writers and artists have called home.

At Waverly Place and Christopher St, in the middle of a street triangle, is the Northern Dispensary, founded in 1827. It was here during Poe’s time and he (supposedly) once visited to buy medicine for a cold. The old brick building is still intact and conjures up Poe’s Manhattan better than any of the other buildings seen on this tour so far.


Just steps away is Waverly Place and 6th Avenue, where Poe resided at one time.


From there, it’s a short walk to 85 W 3rd St, where Poe lived in 1845. Here he wrote “The Facts in the Case of M Valdemar” and revised and published “The Raven.” The original building is no longer here, but NYU (pressured by preservationists) has made some attempt to replicate the facade of Poe’s building.



It’s definitely the best preserved of Poe’s residences I’ve seen today, but then again that’s not saying much. Still, it’s charming. The building is open to the public from 9 to 11 AM on Thursdays, but honestly I doubt it’s worth going into, as it’s now simply NYU offices. The banister of the original staircase has been preserved.



The intriguing 113 1/2 Carmine St (reputedly another of Poe’s residences) no longer exists, but a walk down Carmine St is nice regardless.

Now to the last stop on this tour of non-existent locations: 
E 47th St and 2nd Ave

What I’ll find there is anyone’s guess. Probably nothing.


At E 47th St and 2nd Ave is a rather nice park, as urban parks go. It features a long mall framed with benches and tall, slender trees—their wispy branches reveling in the wind.


There’s also a black structure like a skeletal Greek temple, and a series of fountains that look vaguely Gothic. 



As I watch, a pigeon lands on the edge of the fountain’s dish and I just manage to snap one photo before it flies away, beating its wings and rising upward.


It’s not a raven, but I’ll take it.

.........................................................................................................................

In case anyone is wondering, I have only two Poe cities left to visit before my goal is complete: Richmond, Virginia; and Poe's house and grave in Baltimore, Maryland.

Happy October!





Until tomorrow.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Believe in the Fantastical: A.M. Robin's Hidden Scales

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Title: Hidden Scales
Author: A. M. Robin
Series: Merrows (book 1)
Published: September 1, 2019
Purchase on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Goodreads Blurb:
Merrows are supposed to be extinct. No one has seen the water-breathing creatures in over a century.

That's all eleven-year-old Mira has time to think as she stares at the silver scales that have spread over her foot before she accidentally triggers a curse that will change her world forever. She and her best friend, Peter, are forced to embark on a journey across the kingdom, escaping from ruthless spies who will stop at nothing to capture them before anyone else learns Mira's secret.

With the help of a runaway scholar and a familiar young boy who reveals that he, too, has just discovered that he is a merrow, the children begin to train to beat the spies at their own game. Before they can truly find safety, Mira must learn to use the mysterious powers of her people, or else she and her friends may never be able to return home again.


My Thoughts:
I was immediately impressed by this book because it has illustrations, and they're good. Then I started to read, and it was also good. Gripping, even. I found myself already enthralled in the story and connected to the characters. It's hard not to like Mira upon first meeting her. She's cute, smart, and a bit of a social outcast because she's an orphan. But don't fret, she has a fantastic adoptive mother. Appoline is not only heavily involved in the city council, and a celebrated astronomer, but also a kind, albeit strict mother to Mira. And, not in most of the book. Once Mira discovers that she unexpected scales growing across her feet, her life becomes a whirlwind. One second she's playing chase in the woods and the next she and her friend Peter have joined the party of a flying horse, and are fleeing across the country. 

There is never a dull moment in this book. Anytime the group begins to relax, they are either attacked by the enemy's spies, or taught some new fantastical ability. And as the reader you can dive right into the lake alongside Mira and Kay. You too can ride Eola through the skies, and shoot arrows with Peter. You can even stroll through the Ripples and peek into Tonttu's shop. Hidden Scales is a great Middle Grade book because it's immersive. It's immersive, fun, and expands the imagination. I look forward to Mira's and the gang's next adventure!

My Rating:


Thursday, September 19, 2019

I want furniture that rearranges itself: review of Daniel McMillan's Eve of Ascension


Title: Eve of Ascension
Series: The Fall of the Ascendancy (Book 1)
Author: Daniel McMillan
Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopian
Pages: 270

What Goodreads has to say:

LIFE IN THE ASCENDANCY WAS NOT ALL THAT IT APPEARED...

When an attempt at establishing a World Government seems destined to fail, the global elite seek refuge on a space station and crash an asteroid into the Earth to "bring the population down to a more manageable level".

Once the world was sufficiently healed from the Cataclysm, the elite reappeared and established The Ascendancy. They offered refuge in twelve new cities around the globe - all survivors had to do in exchange was give everything they could for the betterment of the government.

Baxter Clarke grew up in the city of Enswell, enjoying the highest comforts the Ascendancy provided thanks to his brilliant father's contributions.

But when Baxter discovers a connection that upsets the balance he has been familiar with all his life, he finds himself in a situation he never dreamed possible.

Now, with the fate of the Ascended attached to a device stolen from a government agency, he will have to run for his life and leave the city to save his people and rise to be the man he was meant to be.

What I have to say:

This book has fascinating concepts and super interesting characters. There's furniture that rearranges itself when you're having company over (like why have we not invented this yet in the real world, it would make life so much easier?) and makeup that adjusts automatically when the lighting changes or even better, when the person wearing it cries. (Seriously, we need this now, ok?)

The idea of an ascending order of cities is also interesting: most people start out in the outer cities, and as they advance socially, they're moved up into the inner cities. It can take generations for a family to move from one city to another, and if you screw up your chances, forget it.

Meanwhile, the Sylvans live outside the city, frustrating the Ascendancy (the central government) whenever they can, keeping hope of the resistance alive no matter the cost.

Right away, I was hooked: a rebel fighter was surrounded by deadly robots in a jungle, and his chances didn't look good. The story got off to a bang.

Then I was mesmerized by the two different spheres: the city-life of Baxter and his friends, plush with the latest technology and controlled by the government at every turn; and the rugged life of Raishann and her family, who live in much more humble circumstances but consider themselves free in a way the city people aren't. They even speak differently, using slang rather than highly polished, almost manneristic phrases.

So in the categories of freaking cool concepts, solid world-building, and really awesome, diverse characters (marry me, Laena), this book scores top marks.

But I had a problem with its style, and that kept me from giving it top marks all around. I'm a writer myself and a critic, so it could be that I just have a nitpicky disposition. I also enjoy thinking about how I would rewrite a book/play/movie to make it better. It's one of my favorite past-times.

If I were rewriting this book, I'd use a lot more active voice and follow the time-honored "show don't tell" rule. There were a lot of passages that read along the lines of: "Lila asked him what was on his mind and Baxter said that he wanted to go to the store, Lila agreed with him but pointed out that it was late, which caused Baxter to feel guilty and say they could go tomorrow."

Why tell us what the characters are saying? Why can't they just, like, say it?

Other times, we'd be told what a character was thinking when it would have been more effective to show us what they were thinking by the way they acted or by something they said.

I feel like this got in the way of character development and made it hard for us to get truly attached to the characters--which is sad because the author has put together a stellar cast here. There are some really interesting personalities and wide-ranging perspectives. So yeah.

At the end of the day, great story, fun characters, just needs some polishing up in the writing department. That's something that's easily overcome, and as the ideas and concepts are still super cool, I'm excited to see what this author gets up to next.

Rating:







Until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Grandpas are magic: B.C.R. Fegan's Don't Drink the Pink


Title: Don't Drink the Pink
Author: B.C.R. Fegan
Illustrator: Lenny Wen

Review:

As soon as I opened this book to the first illustration—of an empty inventor’s workshop giving off strong steampunk vibes—I knew it was exactly my kind of children’s picture book.

As I flipped through the next couple pages, my suspicions were confirmed. Early 1900s costumes? An adorable little girl with billowy dark hair? I could eat this book for dessert.

But before I get carried away and start requesting an edition of Little Women illustrated by Lenny Wen, I should get back to, you know, B.C.R. Fegan’s actual story.

Every year on her birthday, Grandpa Gilderberry brings Madeline a box of brightly colored potions. “Happy birthday, Madeline,” he says. “Take a potion, take a brew. Just don’t drink the pink.”

Dutifully, Madeline picks a different color (never pink) every time. And when she does, marvelous things happen.

She breathes fire, turns invisible, runs faster than a train, and creates money with her bare hands. (That last trick wins Grandpa Gilderberry big points with Madeline’s father, I suspect.)

But a month before her 15th birthday, Madeline’s grandpa dies. Heartbroken, she goes to his workshop on her birthday and cries. When she lifts her head, Madeline sees a single pink bottle behind a note that reads: “Happy birthday.”

Clearly, it’s time to drink the pink.

While the story may feel a bit repetitive, it’s wonderfully charming and imaginative. And though after a few pages, the book’s pattern is established, there’s still an element of surprise as we wonder which potion Madeline will choose this time and what will happen when she does.

Of course, below the surface level story is a message about grandfathers and the curious delight they bring their granddaughters. I found myself thinking about my grandpa who passed away a few years ago and how, like Grandpa Gilderberry, he was always surprising and delighting his grandchildren and gifting them with strength, power, and perhaps best of all, memories.

I’ll admit that, while I found the ending beautiful and quite moving, it left me with a few questions. This could be because I’ve watched too much Doctor Who and am taking this simple children’s picture book to complicated places where it doesn’t need to go. (Time loop?)

But whatever my questions, I heartily approve of B.C.R. Fegan’s Don’t Drink the Pink, its whimsical illustrations, and its story about a grandfather with an infinite capacity for giving. Drink the pink, Madeline.




Until tomorrow.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Good people are hard to find: Review of Stone Man and the Trail of Tears

Title: Stone Man: And the Trail of Tears
Author: Charles Suddeth
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 162
Release Date: October 8, 2019


What Goodreads has to say:

After U.S. soldiers attack twelve-year-old Tsatsi’s Cherokee village, his family flees to the Smokey Mountains. Facing storms, flood, and hunger, they’re forced to go where Stone Man, a monstrous giant, is rumored to live. Their journey is a dangerous one. Will Tsatsi find the strength to become a Cherokee warrior? And will they ever find their family again?

What I have to say:

This was such a sweet story. Tsatsi’s love for his family, concern for their safety, and desire to protect them at all costs makes this a book that will hit home for anyone who has a family, which should be just about all of us.

Besides that, it will hit home for anyone who’s ever helped or been helped by someone outside their family. Johnny Garner, a white trapper living alone in the mountains, takes it upon himself to rescue two Cherokee children and get them to safety.

Along the way *SPOILER* he risks arrest, injury, and death, and even gets shot protecting Tsatsi and Sali. Why would a lone white man risk so much to save two Cherokee kids he just met? Because he’s freaking awesome.

But Tsatsi is pretty awesome too. The kid is 12 and could probably teach a wilderness survival course that I would 100% attend. Tsatsi is the main character and narrator, and he has a nice voice and personality. He’s tough because he’s had to grow up fast, but he’s also very much a 12-year-old boy.

He’s interested in the pretty girl who helps shelter and feed the three fugitives (Tsatsi, Johnny, and Sali). And he has a soft spot for his younger siblings. He’s also terrified of monsters and can’t get the legend of the giant cannibal Stone Man out of his head.

I found this story enjoyable, educational, and inspiring. It made me want to learn more about the Trail of Tears (which I’ve read some books about in the past but not recently). It made me want to try Johnnycakes because frankly they sound amazing. It inspired me to reach out to others and help people in need, even if they’re strangers. And the ending made me smile.

By the way, this book is nonstop action. One crisis follows hard on the heels of another. If it’s not soldiers or a gang of renegades, it’s a flash flood, a thunder storm, or a life-threatening fever. The story kept me fully engaged.

I can’t fathom being thrown into the situation of Tsatsi and his family. I can’t imagine waking up to soldiers burning my village and having to run into the wilderness to escape them. Then losing my family in the wild and having to fend for myself and my little sister—knowing that soldiers are still following us and believing that my parents and other siblings are dead.

But for many Cherokee families in the 1800s, that’s just what happened. In fact, Tsatsi and his family are lucky because *SPOILER* they actually manage to escape. Other Cherokees were forced to march 1000 miles to Oklahoma, many dying along the way.

And similar things have happened to countless groups of people through the ages. I don’t know why people continue to be such jerks time and time again, but it’s good to know that while there are plenty of Andrew Jacksons and Adolf Hitlers in the world, there are also people like Johnny Garner. And they’re everywhere.

As Tsatsi reflects: “Good people came in all sorts of shapes and colors. And good people made life worthwhile.”

So do good stories, and this short but heartwarming adventure is one of them.

Rating:




Until tomorrow.