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A Pack Divided: Survivors, The Gathering Darkness, Book 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Erin Hunter's A Pack Divided launches a Survivors series called the Gathering Darkness. Focused on adolescent "fierce dog" Storm and her struggle to find her place in the pack (which includes many dogs from the earlier series), the story offers many positive messages about integrity, belonging, obeying authority for the good of everyone, and finding your own path. There's some violence, as the dogs hunt prey to survive; Storm herself has killed an enemy in battle, and an unknown dog is killing puppies; and humans have killed dogs in other books and remain a scary presence. Dog-loving kids will lap up the adventures and empathize with Storm, though some will find it sad that the dogs are forced to fend for themselves because they've lost the humans who loved them. Kids who've read the six books in the first Survivors series and are familiar with the characters, setting, and relationships will have an easier time plunging into this one.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Storm, a young Fierce Dog taken in as an orphan pup by Sweet and Lucky's pack, saved them in an earlier book by killing an enemy. Now, she faces a lot of day-to-day challenges. Many of her pack mates don't trust her because she's a Fierce Dog, and it doesn't make things better that another dog is a clingy, adoring fan. As this new series gets underway, Storm struggles to do the right thing and fit in, but a set of strange incidents, from an innocent dog being framed to the unexplained killing of puppies, has everyone on edge, as Sweet and Lucky, expecting their own puppies, struggle to maintain harmony in A PACK DIVIDED.
Is it any good?
Fans of Erin Hunter's first Survivors series will lap up this tale of a young dog's coming-of-age struggles as her pack confronts danger in a post-disaster world. There are plenty of positive messages about duty, belonging, and the challenges of leadership in this first installment of the Gathering Darkness series. The tale keeps the pages turning with exciting scenes of hunting and peril, plus relatable situations, such as being afraid, confused, or misunderstood -- and finding wisdom and comfort from friends.
Those new to the series might want to read the original six Survivors books first, because the characters, relationships, and cosmology (involving formerly domestic dogs fending for themselves in the wake of a catastrophic earthquake, as well as canine myths about Sun Dog, Earth Dog, Fear Dog, and the like) might be a bit overwhelming. Never fear, because the relentlessly productive "Erin Hunter" (actually a six-woman syndicate of five writers and an editor) includes a whopping 12 pages at the back of the book promoting her complete works, catalog-style, which besides Survivors include Warriors (about cats) and Seekers (about bears).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why animal stories are so popular. How are they different from stories about human characters? How are they alike?
How would you feel if you were punished for something you didn't do? What would you do to make things right?
Have you read other books by Erin Hunter? How does this one compare?
- Author: Erin Hunter
- Illustrator: Laszlo Kubinyi
- Genre: Animals
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: October 13, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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