Recently, Kidsmomo reader Alexa asked us for book recommendations based on her interests:
Hello! My name is Alexa and I just finished reading the second series of Warrior Cats. My question is : Do you know of a good middle grade series like Warrior Cats?
Alexa, thanks for your question! First off, if you’ve only read two of the Warriors series, then you still have a bunch more to go. You’d think that at some point these catfighting clans would just want to all get along and sing Kumbaya together, but in fact these felines just keep up the drama — resulting in sooooooo many series about them:
Warriors- Dawn of the Clans #1- The Sun Trail
Warriors #1- Into the Wild_new cover
Warriors- The New Prophecy #1- Midnight
Warriors- Power of Three #1- The Sight
Warriors- Omen of the Stars #1- The Fourth Apprentice
A Vision of Shadows #1- The Apprentice's Quest
Warriors- Ravenpaw's Path #1- Shattered Peace
Warriors Super Edition- Yellowfang's Secret
Dawn of the Clans
Warriors (the original series)
The New Prophecy
Power of Three
Omen of the Stars
A Vision of Shadows
Warriors Super Editions
When you’re ready for a break from those crazy cats, then there are three other series also by Erin Hunter. Actually, Erin Hunter is six different authors. But these series are all published under the Erin Hunter name:
There ain’t no party like a book launch party ‘cause a book launch party is AWE-SOME! What happens at a book launch party? The author talks. The audience asks questions. Drama unfolds. An animal runs wild. Snacks are eaten.
At least, that’s what happened at the launch party for C. Alexander London’s new book series, The Wild Ones, held at Books of Wonder in NYC on August 29th.
The event kicked off with a performance that the author described as “one little scene to give you a taste of the action of The Wild Ones” — a scene where a rescue occurs in Ankle Snap Alley:
Left: Eliot Shrefer. Right: C. Alexander London (with temporary animal ears).
Afterwards, there was a civilized conversation between the author and Eliot Schrefer, who has also written several books for teens and two books in the Spirit Animals series! Here’s some inside scoop that we’re reporting back to Kidsmomo readers:
C. Alexander London was inspired by reading Brian Jacques’ Redwall series as a kid, so he always wanted to write a fantasy series with talking animals. (As you read The Wild Ones, keep an eye out for Martin the mouse, a tribute to Redwall!)
The series follows the adventures of Kit, a raccoon:
Kit is a country raccoon who finds himself alone in the big city when a pack of hunting dogs destroy his home and kills his parents. Kit finds himself in Ankle Snap Alley, a city in the midst of a turf war between the Wild Ones and the people’s pets who call themselves The Flealess. There he uncovers the secret that they died for — an ancient truce that gives Ankle Snap Alley to the Wild Ones. But the Flealess will stop at nothing to keep that secret buried forever, and Kit is in serious danger. Only the brave of heart and quick of paw can save the Wild Ones now.
The idea came to London when he encountered two raccoons in his backyard. One of them lifted a paw, so he raised his hand up in response.
Not the raccoon in question. From Twitter User @CuteEmergency
Meanwhile, his pet dog was snarling at the raccoons from inside the house, which made sense because London later discovered that raccoons hold their paws up to show aggression. Here, he shares the details of the drama-filled origins of the book:
Since London mentioned his pet dog, our question was: Did Baxter make it into the book as a character? The answer: The main baddie, Titus, was once based on Baxter, a Boston terrier. However, after much consideration, Titus was changed to a thin Italian Greyhound with spindly legs and a deep gruff voice, inspiring London’s favorite sentence in the book, describing Titus’ voice as being “like dynamite in a silk purse.”
Stand-in for C. Alexander London’s dog, also a Boston Terrier
An Italian Greyhound. Photo (c) Flickr User louies
In preparation for writing The Wild Ones, London read many books featuring animal characters, such as the classics The Rats of NIMH and The Wind in the Willows. Like the Redwall series, many of them were very British, so he thought: What would the American counterpart be? London decided it could be an immigrant story — someone coming to a new place and finding a home: That is Kit’s story. Ankle Snap Alley is based on the historical Five Points neighborhood in Manhattan, infamous for crime and poverty.
So what will we be looking forward to after reading The Wild Ones? The sequel, of course! In the sequel, we’ll get a taste of a villainous coyote, a gang of otters, and the mysterious alligator in the sewer that everyone’s heard about. London just finished the first draft, which was a little held up because he invented a lot of new words for the world, but had a tiny bit of trouble keeping track of it all. A lot of the jargon used by the animals is similar to what thieves and magicians say.
After the Q&A, we stood in line for the book signing and enjoyed some compost cake and animal crackers:
And in case you’re worried that we’re reporting this from the grave after an intense life-ending stomachache: Nope, compost cake is NOT made of actual compost, but actually consists of crushed cookies, chips, pretzels and more fun, yummy snacks. Compost cake, naturally, is the closest homage to what the Wild Ones eat, which is… trash and compost. The animal crackers, however — the author admitted that was a little odd. He doesn’t want to us to EAT Kit, he wants us to READ about him, obviously. So… pick up a copy of The Wild Ones today! Or enter below for a chance to win a copy!
Raccoon Photo (c) Flickr user fatedsnowfox
ENTER BY SEPTEMBER 30TH FOR A CHANCE TO WIN…
GRAND PRIZE: A SIGNED HARDCOVER COPY OF THE WILD ONES AND A HARDCOVER COPY OF IMMORTAL GUARDIANS!
TWO RUNNER-UP PRIZES: A HARD COVER COPY OF THE WILD ONES!
P.S. In case you were keeping track: The “animal running wild” that we mentioned at the beginning was an adorable service dog who walked around the bookstore like he owned the joint. It did not seem professional to take a picture of him, as he was doing important dog work.
A canine detective in search of missing chickens. Dog and cat housemates with a new vampire(?!) bunny roommate. And several epic tales about rats versus mice — apparently, legendary enemies… Those are just a few of the several-species-stories you’ll find in our new booklist of multi-animal adventures (in no particular order):
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick (Karen’s pick)
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (Nancy’s pick)
The Trouble with Chickens, written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Kevin Cornell
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Bunnicula books by James Howe
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins
Redwall series by Brian Jacques
The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Poppy by Avi
The Incredible Journey by author Sheila Burnford
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
I, Freddy books by Dietlof Reiche
(Also, here’s a printable version of our Multi-Animal Adventures booklist, for you to take to the library or bookstore — or read aloud to your pets to give them some inspiration.)
If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review. Or send in a review of your favorite multi-animal adventure book.
That’s the war cry of Redwall Abbey, and the way I hear it in my head whenever I see the book on a shelf.
Sadly, the author of the Redwall series, Brian Jacques, passed away of a sudden heart attack on February 5th. He was 71 years old, and in his lifetime had written over 35 books for kids and teens.
Along with the Redwall series, he also wrote the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series, the Urso Brunov picture books, Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales, and The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns.
Mr. Jacques grew up in Liverpool, England, a young child during World War II. When he was 10, he wrote a story about a bird that cleaned a crocodile’s teeth for a school assignment. It was so good that his teacher became suspicious and accused young Mr. Jacques of plagiarism. But that didn’t deter him! He continued to write for children all his life, and even modeled some of his characters on his own family members. Mariel (of Mariel of Redwall) is based on his granddaughter, Constance the Badgermum is based on his grandmother, and guess who Gonff the Mousethief (best friend of Martin the Warrior) is based on — Brian Jacques himself!
Does that mean he admitted to being a thief? Hm…
Mr. Jacques wasn’t just a writer, though. He was a father, husband, and grandfather. And a merchant seaman. And a railroad worker and truck driver. And a singer in a folk band, The Liverpool Fisherman. (I’m guessing he was an avid fisherman, also). And for two decades, he hosted a radio show called “Jakestown” — that’s how his last name is pronounced, by the way.
This May, the 22nd novel of the Redwall series, The Rogue Crew will be released. From the book description, it sounds like Mr. Jacques’ former sea life helped inspire this novel. Here’s the official description:
“From Salamandastron’s Western Shores, to the High North Coast, here they come. Captain Rake Nightfur, and his Long Patrol Hares, with Skor Axehound and the Rogue Crew Sea Otters. Marching boldly into a thrilling saga, singing, feasting, swashbuckling, and battling. Questing for the infamous ship Greenshroud, crewed by Searats and Corsairs, Captained by the murderous Razzid Wearat, terror of both sea and land. His aim, the conquest of an Abbey! Was there ever such a blood and thunder chase? The fate of Abbot Thibb and his Redwallers hangs in the balance. Who will be first to the gates, who can save the legendary Abbey from the clutches of a Wearat? On, on, to victory or death!”
We love that famous boy wizard as much as you do (maybe even more, judging by Karen’s recent dream). But there are tons of other amazing fantasy series out there, ready to transport you to Olympus, the Inkworld, Middle Earth, Redwall Abbey, and everywhere in between and beyond. Here’s a sampling (in no particular order).
And if you’re a fan of any of these fantastic fantasy series, send in your review:
The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins (Karen’s pick)
Redwall by Brian Jacques (Nancy’s pick)
Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
Septimus Heap by Angie Sage
The Ink-trilogy by Cornelia Funke
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Warriors by Erin Hunter
The Pendragon Adventure by D.J. MacHale
Children of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo
Or send in a review of your favorite fantasy series!