Podkin One-Ear: Longburrow, Book 1

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Podkin One-Ear: Longburrow, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Brave rabbits meet scary monsters in exciting series start.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fantasy involving heroics and cosmic struggle is more about adventure and life lessons than delivering educational value, but author Kieran Larwood laces the exciting tale with vocabulary-enhancing words (e.g., "portcullis," "palisade").

Positive Messages

Strong messages about family, friendship, and courage; recognizing everyone's talents and giving them a chance to shine and be their best; overcoming your own bad choices in the past to be a better person now.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Podkin starts as a lazy, spoiled, and thoughtless young rabbit, but works hard to do better when he's called on to be a hero, aided by friends and sometimes the voice of his dead father. His older, studious, hardworking sister Paz, who actually paid attention in school, proves to have great courage and also mad skills, all while taking care of baby brother Pook. While some adults have gone over to the dark side and are scary, others show kindness and go to much trouble to help the young siblings.

Violence

While it's not especially gory or nightmarish, there's a lot of combat and violent conflict. Podkin loses an ear in a narrow escape. Young rabbits flee the takeover of their village by relentless, zombie-like robot rabbits who kill their father, want to kill them, and pursue them throughout the story. Lots of fighting, hand-to-hand combat with stabbing and slashing. Also explosives.

Sex
Language

"Oh, badgers' bottoms" is about as strong as it gets. Some old-fashioned British phrases, like describing a baby being carried "in a papoose" may startle U.S. readers.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult rabbits drink mead, especially on festive occasions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kieran Larwood's Podkin One-Ear is the exciting first book of a planned two-volume series about the heroic struggles of young rabbits trying to protect themselves and their loved ones against the Gorm: monstrous, zombie-like robot rabbits that have already killed the young ones' father. As such, it may be too intense for some readers, but there's a lot to love about this tale of a spoiled young rabbit changing his ways and becoming a hero, losing an ear in the process -- as told to enthralled rabbit children by a mead-swilling, long-eared bard one winter holiday. Sleeping potions play a role, both for medical purposes and for tricking an enemy; there's a bit of dice-rolling for survival money; young Podkin fights some battles and slays some monsters. Strong messages of family, courage, and looking out for one another, as well as working hard to make things better.

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What's the story?

It's Bramblemas, and clamoring rabbit children pester the newly arrived bard for the tale of PODKIN ONE-EAR, a legendary hero from long ago. Swilling mead as he goes, the old storyteller obliges. It all starts on just such a night when 8-year-old and still two-eared Podkin, spoiled and lazy heir to a rabbit chieftain, his hardworking sister Paz, a year older but unable to be chieftain because she's a girl, and their baby brother Pook are watching the adults party when their world changes forever. Zombie-like robot rabbits invade the celebration, kill the kids' father, and send them running for their lives. Over the course of many dangers and challenges, Podkin develops from brat to hero and enlists new allies as he tries to save his mom and the other rabbits from an awful fate. And maybe save the world.

Is it any good?

Young rabbit heroes shine in this series debut that delivers lots of excitement, humor, and life lessons as it pits them against zombie-like robot rabbits. British author Kieran Larwood's lively storytelling and illustrator David Wyatt's detailed black-and-white drawings build a rich, inviting world where the monsters are scary enough to be exciting -- but manageable, since they're part of a cozy storytelling session many years later. A satisfying conclusion leaves plenty to tell in the second book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the animal characters have lives and struggles that seem a lot like human ones in Podkin One-Ear. Do you like animal fantasies like this, or do you prefer more realistic animal stories? 

  • What do you think about Podkin's sister not being allowed to be chieftain because she's a girl? Is that fair? Do you know anybody who's been prevented from doing something they're good at because of some rule like this? How did they deal with it?

  • Have any of your family members had adventures in the past that you think would be a good story? What happened?

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For kids who love fantasy and animal stories

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