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Darkwing (Silverwing) Hardcover – August 21, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—The story of Darkwing is set 65 million years ago, during the early Paleocene era just years after the enormous C-T dieback event. Dusk and his family are chiropters, small arboreal mammals that glide and feed on insects. Changes are coming to their world, and not the least of them are Dusk's abilities of flight and echolocation. Although his family stands by him, most of the colony is very uncomfortable with his flying, fearing reprisal from the birds that live above them in the trees. All concerns about Dusk's oddities or their avian neighbors are swept aside when an outcast prowl of felids, led by the bloodthirsty Carnassial, attack the colony and Dusk's special abilities help to guide his fellows and keep them safe. During their search for a new home, his quick wits are all that stand between the colony and disaster. In their quest, the chiropters encounter deadly predators, from saurian holdouts to shrewlike soricids with poisonous saliva. Betrayals from both within the colony and without add to the excitement in this adventure. Readers will feel for Dusk as he decides repeatedly not to abandon his colony, despite their treatment of him. In Darkwing, Oppel offers a celebration of difference in addition to a wonderful imagining of a pivotal moment in evolution. An author's note highlights some of the actual fossil species that appear. One cautionary note—the descriptions of animals eating each other may be disturbing to sensitive readers.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In his Silverwing series Oppel spun a contemporary fantasy about the world of bats. In this ambitious new stand-alone fantasy, he turns the clock back 65 million years to imagine the world of the bats' earliest ancestors, which he calls "chiropters." These tree-dwelling creatures are flightless, using their wings (which they call "sails") to glide through the air, from tree to tree. Only Dusk, youngest son of the colony's leader, has made an evolutionary leap; not only can he fly, he can also see at night, using echo vision. Predictably, the others regard him as a mutant to be shunned—all but his father, who wisely considers his son's differences as gifts. Dusk's real nemesis, however, is a beast (a "felid") called Carnassial, who is the first of his kind to be carnivorous and, like Dusk, is shunned by his own. Clearly the world is poised on the brink of remarkable change, and the future belongs to these two. Oppel writes with keen insight and empathy about the condition of being "other" in the context of a richly plotted, fast-paced story that—though sometimes too heavily anthropomorphized—is captivating reading from beginning to end. Cart, Michael

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Series: Silverwing (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006085054X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060850548
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kenneth Oppel is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwing trilogy has sold over a million copies worldwide, and been adapted as an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn was winner of a Michael L Printz Honor Book Award, and the Canadian Governor General's Award for Children's Literature; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller and was named Children's Novel of the Year by the London Times. He is also the author of Half Brother, and This Dark Endeavor, a prequel to Frankenstein. His most recent book is THE BOUNDLESS, a thriller set aboard the longest, most magnificent train ever built. Born on Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, England, Ireland, and now lives in Toronto with his wife and children.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Steven R. McEvoy on September 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book can either be seen as a first book in a new series or as the 4th in an old series, written as a prequel. If it is a prequel it might be a record-breaker for time span. For Darkwing is a book set 65 million years ago. It is the story of a bat named Dusk, who does not know that he is a bat. He was born of a species named chriopter, and son of the Colony's leader Icaron. However Dusk is different - his sails(wings) are furless, his coloring is darker, and he is stronger in the shoulders and chest than other chriopters.

The story is set in the animal world in a time when the dinosaurs were in the process of dying off, and most other species were becoming overpopulated. Thus, nature, in an attempt to balance the ecosystem, was allowing to emerge, new breads of predators.

Oppel writes amazing books, as is evident by his numerous awards and nominations. His accolades include over a million copies of the Silverwing trilogy, The Governor General's Award, a Michael L. Printz Honor book, and the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award and many others. He has accumulated book awards both at home in Canada and across the pond in the UK.

In Oppel's writings, he crafts his words and draws you into the world in ways you have never seen or imagined. Silverwing, written from a bat's perspective, is written without using any color - all the descriptions are in black, white, silvers and grays, as seen from the bat's perspective. In the same way, this book told from multiple first person perspectives, helps you see a prehistoric world from the animal's eye, whether it is the bat or Miacas.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Rose VINE VOICE on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For those of you that don't know, Kenneth Oppel writes childrens books, including a popular collection about bats including Silverwing. Darkwing is meant to serve as both a standalone book and a prequel to Silverwing, and takes place 65 million years ago as the dinosaurs died out and all sorts of evolutionary wonders were happening, not the least of which was the evolution of the bat from a (relatively made up) similar creature called a chiropter that stars in this book.

The story is relatively simple...Dusk is a chiropter that has odd qualities that make him different from the rest of his clan. Despite that, his father, as leader, keeps Dusk safe and accepted within their community. One night though, the chiropters clan is attacked and they must seek a new home. Many perils face the giant chiropter tribe as they search high and low throughout their homelands for a new place to live, facing the challenges of new predators, unfamiliar territories, and the fact their isolation on their island home has sheltered them from the realities of the evolutionary world...plus Dusk still doesn't fit in with his group, even though his oddness benefits his clan time and time again.

At first I found the book a bit slow...and quite confusing, especially when trying to figure out what a Chiropter is (an explanation occurs at the end of the book, not the beginning). Well the best way to describe it is the predecessor to a bat...they can only glide, not fly for example. Many of the other creatures the bat colony comes across are similarly confusingly named with all sorts of bizarre titles. However, about a third of the way through I actually got quite into the story. Even though it's a kids book and some things were quite predictable, much of the book was quite UNpredictable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
" They've accepted me." These are the words of a young dinosaur like bat. Who shows he hates being different but does not want to be anyother way. This young bat is Dusk and after reading this whole book it just goes to show you that being a Chiropters is not at easy as you would think but then again their life can be a little like ours.

All he ever wants is to be accepted by his kin named the Chiropters. Unlike most Chiropters Dusk has special skills that one day saves the lifes of many. However being different can be a bad thing when your a Chiropters that have been different in the past are ignored, shunned, killed, even sometimes left by their own family to die. Dusk is just lucky he is the leaders son or whos knows what would happen. Although Dusk has a huge family the main characters from his family you will hear about are his mom and dad, his sister Sylph, and his older brother Auster.

I felt this was a book many people can enjoy. One of the reasons for this is well it fits with a lot of different themes. For example there is killing making it horror. Then theres the always left out Dusk making it sad. Then as a last example there are twistand turns around every corner. The passage I like the best is the one stated before "They've accepted me." this just shows that after all the hard work and punishment he had to go through he was still able to reach his goal.
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Format: Hardcover
My nine-year-old son recently read Darkwing, an older book by Kenneth Oppel, and has been after me to read it myself because he thought I'd enjoy it and because he wanted to share the experience and talk about it. I'm glad he kept on me because it was one of the best YA reads I've done this past year. My son clearly though so as well since he had me read it aloud to him (including a two-hour straight stretch) from the halfway point on even though he'd just read it a few weeks earlier. That's perhaps the best recommendation I can give.

Before Darkwing Oppel had already penned a contemporary fantasy with bats as characters: Sunwing, Silverwing, and Firewing. One could call Darkwing a "prequel" I suppose, but it's got to be the earliest prequel I've ever seen as it's set way back in the Paleocene epoch, just as the dinosaurs are dying out. It was a great choice.

The main character is Dusk, a relatively young member of a colony of small mammalian tree-glider called chiropters living on a small island connected at low tide to the mainland by a sandbar. Dusk is something different than a chiropter though: his "sails" are hairless and in usage act more like wings, and he also can see at night using echoes. His colony shuns him as a freak, save for his loyal sister, his loving mother, and his stern father, who is also the colony's leader. At first Dusk hides his differences as much as possible, then he is forbidden to use his new gifts and the early part of the story deals with his attempts to find his place in his world.

Meanwhile, other changes are rocking the world.
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