A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Beasts of Grimheart is the third installment in Kieran Larwood's Longburrow series, which pits a battered band of rabbits against the monstrous, world-destroying machines of the Gorm. Since the first book in the series, the Gorm have been slaughtering and enslaving forest creatures and laying waste to their homes. There's a lot of violence as the cosmic conflict progresses, which costs many characters their lives and/or body parts (young hero Podkin lost an ear in Book 1). Characters are captured, imprisoned, and threatened with death, including at the hands of a band of assassins who serve the goddess of death. There's also lots of wisdom and heart, and more than one happy reunion, as siblings Podkin, Paz, and baby Pook are chosen by the gods to save their world, and struggle to rise to the responsibility while avoiding the mistakes of their elders. While many plot threads are wound up here, author Larwin and bard Pook hint strongly at more to come.
What's the story?
Book 3 of the Longburrow series finds Podkin, Paz, Pook, and their bedraggled band of refugee rebbits fleeing deep into the forest and meeting up with THE BEASTS OF GRIMHEART -- ancient, giant woodland creatures -- and joining forces in a last, desperate attempt to stop the Gorm. As Podkin soon learns, he'll need not just bravery and battle skills but also diplomacy as he tries to enlist other rabbit warrens, who often seem more interested in squabbling with one another. Informed by one of the ancient beings that he's been chosen by the god Hern for this task, Podkin frets:
"He was a tiny, earless scrap of a thing, and yet he was Hern's defense for the entire forest? He didn't want to criticize a god, but it didn't seem like Hern had thought things through properly."
Is it any good?
Brave young rabbits and their unlikely allies join in a last-ditch battle against the world-destroying machines of the Gorm in this installment of Kieran Larwood's forest epic. Young siblingss Podkin and Paz, forced into responsibilities far beyond their years, are cheer-worthy and appealing as they struggle to do the right thing, look out for their loved ones, and restore their safe and a happy world. Along the way Paz struggles with the tradition that will prevent her from being chief of her warren because she's a girl -- a tradition that's already poisoned relationships in earlier generations of her family -- and Podkin grapples with the weight of duty.
"He remembered a little rabbit who used to spend the day hiding from his lessons, playing with his wooden wagon and model soldiers. What under earth had happened to him?
"He became a hero, Podkin realized, and sighed. A hero with another problem to solve."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the how the rabbit characters in The Beasts of Grimheart seem to share a lot of qualities of humans in our world. Do you like stories with animal heroes, or do you prefer humans? What are some of your favorite animal adventure stories?
One theme in the Longburrow series is sibling rivalry, which gets especially nasty when gender stereotypes like "Girls can't be chief" enter the picture. Do you feel like you and your sibs have a lot in common with Podkin and Pax as they try to sort this out? How do you get along with other family members?
Do you like to tell stories? Do you find the storytelling tips Pook gives his young apprentice helpful?
- Author: Kieran Larwood
- Illustrator: David Wyatt
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Clarion
- Publication date: August 13, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 12
- Number of pages: 272
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: October 30, 2020
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