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Project Redwall: Rakkety Tam by Brian Jacques

[4/5 stars] I freaking loved these books as a kid. I read every single one of them multiple times and stayed up to date with the series until I graduated high school. Then for some reason, even though 5 more books were published in the series, I felt myself reluctant to pick them up. What if I didn’t like them as much? What if I was too old for Redwall?? What if the characters referenced a character I didn’t remember because it has been so long and I had to go back and reread them all to get the full experience??? Well, thankfully I finally decided to stop freaking out about all the things and took the plunge into my first Redwall book in 13 years: Rakkety Tam.

And you know what? I LOVED it. The storytelling was every bit as special as it was when I was a kid and my biggest takeaway was a newfound admiration for an author who produced 20+ books in a series and still took the same care to create amazing characters, fun situations, and compelling quests in book 16 as he did with book 1. You can truly see how much passion Jacques had for his stories (and how much creativity!).

Rakkety Tam offered a dashing hero, sufficiently wicked foebeasts, brilliant acts of courage, and a good lesson against greed and avarice. I especially liked the many scuffles and battles throughout and was actively cheering for the good guys by the end. And the bird!! This is the first book I can remember where a bird has a role in the story. They’re super funny in their mannerisms and I think I like them almost as much as the moles. Overall, this was a nice addition to the series.

I tried something new with this book: I listened to the audio while following along in the book. Normally I would’ve just breezed through the audio, but I felt the need to really take my time with this series. And after a few chapters, I decided to try both. I admit the decision wasn’t made totally out of nostalgia. The audiobooks contains a full cast of actors for the characters, with Jacques himself reading the narration. People, I couldn’t understand a freaking word he was saying at first (imagine Sean Connery reading to you… without enunciation). I’m used to his dialect now, but I would’ve missed so much had I not changed what I was doing.

It worked out though, because while listening I discovered how much unbridled FUN it was listening to a cast of voices, especially when they start singing the adorable songs & ditties Jacques loved to include throughout his books. It turned the entire story into an experience, and one I’m beyond happy to have had. Overall, I love that I’m finally continuing, and that I’m having as much fun (if not more) than I did as a kid.

Recommendations: these books aren’t like Watership Down or the Fire Bringer where the reader is thrust into the unassuming lives of woodland creatures (snore), but robust, well-spun adventures where the heroes brandish swords and the villains come for blood! It’s brilliant because it has everything you’d expect from a adult fantasy novel, but it’s use of mice, otters, etc. make it accessible to kids. It’s a series with so much fun and adventure that I’d recommend it highly to any middle grade kid looking to discover books she/he could love.

My favorites in the series (so far):

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Ten Childhood Books I’m Thankful For!

Top ten Tuesday pink

 Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 This week, I’m paying homage to the books that sparked my love of reading. Without them, I doubt I would have grown up to be The Obsessive Bookseller I am today. I owe them for introducing me to my passion in life.

Top Ten Childhood Books I’m Thankful For!

Most of these books kept me entertained a dozen times over – when I was younger we lived almost two hours from the nearest bookstore, so I reread these books until they were falling apart. Some of them I would challenge myself to read cover to cover every day… It was a lot of fun. :-)

What books sparked your love of reading as a kid?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Redwall by Brian Jacques

Title: Redwall

Author: Brian Jacques

Series: Redwall #1

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Redwall Abbey, tranquil home to a community of peace-loving mice is threatened by Cluny the Scourge – the evil-one-eyed rat warlord – and his battle-hardened horde of predators. Cluny is certain that Redwall will fall easily to his fearsome army but he hasn’t bargained for the courage and strength of the combined forces of the Redwall mice and their loyal woodland friends. . . . .

The Review:

If I could say one thing about Jacques, it’s that he was a master storyteller! His books take you on grand adventures that rival the best fantasy novels out there. I’ve read them so many times the covers are falling off! An what’s more, the series sustains itself, with drawn out stories about downright fascinating characters. Bravery and Goodness can come from anywhere, and there are always evil-doers to stand up to. They are such well-rounded stories that I recommend them to even you hardcore fatasy buffs out there. They are often overlooked because people are expecting them to be like “Watership Down” or “Animal Farm”, and while those are worthwhile books in a certian context and place, they do not make for happy fantasy reading like these books do.

Redwall will make you forget you’re reading about animals. They boast creatively awesome representatives of different races. For example, mice are the humans of this world, sort of the standard by which we measure everyone else. The rabbits are the comic relief, and always put off a dwarf-like sentiment. The otters are the graceful archers, and very elf-like in their mannerisms. Even the villians are special – with rats as the cannon fodder and henchmen (orcs) and other creatures such as foxes and weasels who plot against our heroes.

All in all, I can credit this series for sparking my interest in books when I was in the fifth grade. I saw one in the library, and started reading smaller books with the hopes of working my way up to one someday. These are excellent adventures for children, and I’m a living example that they encourage literacy at young ages. As an adult I still love them, and am long overdue for another reread!

Word of warning: do not read these books if you are hungry… you’ll see.

by Niki Hawkes