Friday, October 21, 2011

Trundle's Quest

by Allan Jones, illustrated by Gary Chalk
HarperCollins, 2010. 151 pgs. Fantasy

Trundle Boldoak is a hedgehog who is a lamplighter on Shiverstones, a floating fragment of a planet shattered by a massive explosion in prehistoric times, and one among many of the Sundered Lands. One night he finishes his shift, goes home looking forward to some hot cabbage tea and a good book, but he is immediately thrown into turmoil by the somewhat violent arrival of one Esmeralda, self-styled Princess in Darkness, who has read the Badger Blocks and knows Trundle to be the Lamplighter who will help her retrieve the Six Crowns that will reunite the Sundered Lands. Things move swiftly after that as the wicked Captain Grizzletusk arrives to wreck and pillage Shiverstones. Trundle and Esmeralda escape as stowaways and wind up on the mining/slave planet of Drune where it takes all their wits and courage to escape a terrible fate--and to find the first crown. The two hedgehogs are delightful protagonists: Trundle inexperienced and a bit fearful, but filled with compassion and a rough sort of courage as well. Esmeralda is a bit of a scofflaw--she cheats at cards to get money for Trundle's sword, but then hucks a paving stone through the pawnshop window in a smash-and-grab to aid them in their quest. Trundle is appalled; Esmeralda can't figure out why. The two start to rub off on one another as the story progresses with Trundle becoming bolder and more engaged and Esmerald acquiring some scruples. Trundle's Quest is great fun in the English tradition of animal adventure tales--kids should take quickly to these two valiant creatures and look forward to the next book in the series, due out soon.

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