Sunday, July 02, 2006

The best laid plans of mice...

...and here it is, July already. June turned out to be a ludicrously busy month, and as a result all my carefully prepared plans for "Star Wars month" went by the wayside. Filthy Pro Rule #5: Paying work always takes precedence. Sorry about that.

Things are still not quite back to normal around here, whatever it is that "normal" may be (at least, I've heard rumors that there is such a thing as normal, though I can't recall ever catching a glimpse of it myself), so the bloggerel is going to continue to be somewhat light and erratic for the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you're looking for some very good summer reading, I would like to direct your attention to the thoroughly enjoyable Redwall series by Brian Jacques.

On the face of it, Redwall is medieval fantasy series aimed at pre-teen and early teen readers, with a wonderful Wind in the Willows vibe to it. The larger story concerns the struggle of the peace-loving mice of Redwall Abbey to protect themselves and their various rodentish neighbors against the villainous rats and other barbarians of the animal world, but the books are neither as amoral as Harry Potter, as larded with pseudo-Celtic pagan magickal krappe as most YA fantasies, or as thick with club-you-over-the-head Christian symbolism as C.S. Lewis. In fact, there is no magic here at all, except for a vaguely Arthurian legend in the backstory of a great hero from the past who will someday return in their hour of greatest need.

If your kids have either burned through the Chronicles of Narnia in a weekend or couldn't wade into them in the first place; if they're not old enough for The Lord of the Rings and not cynical enough for The Last Unicorn; if you're looking for books that don't wallow in the usual anti-Christian biases of most YA fantasy -- (Hey, the Monks, Brothers, Friars and Novices of Redwall Abbey actually say grace before dinner and end the prayer with Amen!) -- I highly recommend checking out Redwall.

P.S. And here's the real secret about these books: boys love 'em!