Review Blog

Sep 19 2011

The red wind by Isobelle Carmody

cover image

Penguin/Viking. 2010. ISBN: 9780670074037.
(Ages 9+) Recommended. Fantasy. Winner CBCA Younger Readers Book of the Year, 2011.
Brothers, Bily and Zluty, born from an egg live in a stone building with a cellar in an unforgiving landscape. They are little furry creatures, whose lives are bound by their need for food. Bily has a garden at the side of the house which produces much of their needs, but every season, he goes off to the forests to collect sap, mushrooms and honey. This excursion takes him ten days. When he returns, food is kept for the coming winter, and their cellar is full of preserved food, jars of honey, ground cones, bags of wheat and rice. But this time it is different. When Bily leaves for the forest they both notice a red cloud hovering in the sky, seeming to get closer. As Bily taps the trees in the forests, stones fall from the sky and then heavy rain falls as he has never seen before. Meanwhile back at their house, Zluty is coping with the strange weather as well, but in taking refuge in the cellar with the birds, a stranger enters, scaring them all. This monster has been bitten and so Zluty cares for him, despite being terrified of the large animal.
On Bily's return, the stone walls of their house have caved in with the stones and rain, and the cellar is almost full of water. He is bereft and digs frantically to find Zluty's body. But he is safe and the three, Zluty, Bily and the monster, along with Redwing, set out to find a safer place to live.
A charming story of courage and loyalty, of tenacity and survival, the characters in this book will endear themselves to the readers, as they bravely take off for places unknown. The detailed descriptions of the landscape, along with the hints of the other beings within their community, make this a magical read, a fantasy yet with ramifications of a wider theme.
A wholly engrossing read, middle and older primary readers will find much to enjoy in this, the first in the series, The Kingdom of the Lost. It would make a marvellous readaloud.
Fran Knight

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