The Mistmantle Chronicles: The Urchin of the Riding Stars  

Title: Mistmantle Chronicles, The: Urchin of the Riding Stars – Book #1 (Mistmantle Chronicles)

Author: M. I. McAllister
CBA or ABA? ABA (American Book Association)
Primary Audience/age group: 9 12 yrs. Old
Genre: Fantasy/Action
# Of pages: 228
Year of Release: 2005
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 3
Rating: 3.5 of 5
Recommend? Yes, see below

Description: from Publishers Weekly
The first book in the Mistmantle Chronicles introduces a mystical, medieval island and its anthropomorphic woodland denizens. The hedgehog King Brushen rules the island of Mistmantle and his squirrel, otter, mole and hedgehog subjects. The mists that surround the island give it its name, and also hide it from outsiders-except for one pregnant squirrel who finds her way to its shores in time to give birth to a child of prophecy (“He will bring down a powerful ruler”) before she dies. Crispin, a squirrel who serves as one of the king’s Captains, discovers the baby on the shore and names him Urchin. The young squirrel is thrilled when Crispin, “[his] hero,” later asks Urchin to be his page. But Urchin’s joy is short-lived when the king’s young son is murdered, and-by an arcane system of drawing lots-Crispin is determined to be the murderer. Urchin, the otter Padra (his new master) and other loyal subjects strive to uncover the conspirators set on overthrowing King Brushen. ” `And, Urchin,’ Padra added quietly, `whatever those sharp squirrel ears pick up, be careful of repeating anything…. I know Crispin was innocent and so do you…. But there is danger in high places on this island.’ ” Urchin and his young friends make friendly, virtuous heroes, and younger readers may well look forward to their future adventures. Ages 8-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Review: I found The Urchin of the Riding Stars to be an exciting read. It was a bit heavy on description, but I think it was necessary to give a mental picture of the island and the characters. I was drawn in to the life on the mysterious island and enjoyed getting to know the characters. Urchin appeals to the underdog in us all. If your child enjoyed the Redwall series, they will like this too. Following are events/circumstances in the book that I believe may be cause for concern to some parents:

Positive:
This book had a clear good versus bad story line. The heroes make the right choices in the face of tough circumstances. There are great lessons in loyalty, character, and standing up for what is good and right.

Spiritual Elements:
The good guy, Urchin is a child of prophecy. He has been born to save the village from an evil king. At one point they cast lots to determine who murdered one of the characters.

Violence:
One of the bad guys in the story orders all weak/deformed animals born to be culled (killed). A few fights or battle scenes, but nothing gory.Language: No Bad Language

Sexual Content:
None

Other:
The bad guys drug the good guys with wine in place of water.

Recommend: I will allow my 12 year old to read this book. I felt like the story was a clear, classic good against evil plot. I would suggest the book be read by 10 and up. I wish the references to wine werent included and will discuss that with myson.

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