Crunch, crunch. Crunch, crunch… a wandering storyteller, a landscape shrouded in snow and a richly-drawn community of folklore-loving rabbits make a superbly compelling combination in this middle-grade story.
Readers of Podkin One Ear will hanker for a few peaceful hours’ reading time, a roaring fireside and preferably some bleak weather to compliment the warm, storytelling magic in this book. Luckily, we’ve been having plenty of rubbish weather lately so Book Biscuit and I nestled down and we really enjoyed the adventure.
Podkin exists in a world inhabited by tribes of rabbits. Not exactly the fluffy bunny kind but more anothropomorphic warrior-rabbits that go on to have the sorts of Hobbit-y adventures young readers will love.
The story is told by a travelling narrator and whose links to the tale give us a nice twist at the end. We are treated to interludes with the said storyteller allowing the reader to cosy in again around the rabbits’ fireside to the sound of twitching noses and pouring mead (something like that anyway, clearly I’m not the writer here…) Anyway, it gives us the benefit of a bit of light-hearted humour too and the chance to get further enticed into the next instalment of the story. It’s a device that we liked and thought worked very well.
Podkin One Ear is a young rabbit and the son of a tribal chieftan. When the evil and monstrous iron-clad Gorm attack their warren, Podkin, his sister Paz and their baby brother Pook are thrust out of their cosy lives and into the depths of a cruel winter to survive alone. With just each other—and the Gorm hot on their heels—they will need every bit of wit they have to escape. And maybe a bit of magic too if they’re lucky enough to come by it…
Luckily, older sister Paz is a force to be reckoned with and becomes key to their survival because Podkin, although chief-in-waiting to lead their tribe, begins as a lazy and inept little so-and-so! He can’t even use the magical sword that has been entrusted to him and Paz, though far more capable can’t get a look-in on that piece of action; you see she’s a female rabbit and they didn’t hold with that sort of thing back then. Oh dear…
Book Biscuit was actually a bit annoyed on Paz’s behalf that she couldn’t have the sword or graduate to lead the tribe… but I suppose that’s just the way it was in those old-fashioned rabbit-ruling days. (We wouldn’t let it happen today Book Biscuit!) Also, this is Podkin’s story you know and perhaps, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to hear more about Paz’s adventures in a later book…
Along the way, Podkin and his siblings meet some wonderfully intriguing characters; a kindly old witch rabbit who gets mysteriously younger and stronger the more than the Gorm wreak their havoc and a blind warrior who has a tale or two himself to tell.
Despite losing an ear (don’t worry, it’s not painted as TOO traumatic), the lazy, useless Podkin gradually steps up to the mark and we do really root for him to put an end to the blood-thirsty Gorm’s reign of terror. It is through his love for his mother, his desire to avenge his father’s death and his realisation that his sister is a far better warrior than him, that drives Podkin to come into his own.
Little brother Pook is fab and we warmed to him completely. A natural soothsayer in tiny fluffy rabbit form—WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?!! In fact we got more than a little nervous that he might get hurt! But don’t worry, the baby is fine, phew… this is a book for children.
This is a smashing, evocative story by a relatively new author and is one that I would happily put into the hand of any nine year old or older who is looking to settle down with a good read.
Book Biscuit’s best bit
Book Biscuit so wants to like animal stories because he does just love cute things with big eyes. But he often can’t get into them because as much as he likes fluff, he likes a bit of grit too… And that is what this book has in really good measure. He really enjoyed it because not only it is full of soft, cute rabbits (we’re not talking about the infected, rusty-eyed, armour clad violent Gorm here by the way) it is also brimming with magic, darkness and peril and we found it really gripping, whilst still somehow being young enough for the middle-grade category of readers.
Other interesting things
David Wyatt has bestowed some astounding illustrations to this book! What he creates in his pictures is SO much more than an image and will not only thrill readers of the story but are sure to inspire future illustrators…
The only illustrations I can get hold of are from David Wyatt’s website because my copy only contains initial sketches so if you really want to enjoy them you’re going to have to head out to your library or bookshop and get your own. Go on, you will not regret it…
We think this will suit 9+ readers best.