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The Prince Who Fell from the Sky Hardcover – May 22, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2012:
"A compassionate bear defies everything to save a boy from certain death in this original story blending creation myth with post-apocalyptic and animal-fantasy traditions.

The Forest, where Casseomae hunts, forages and has given birth to several litters of stillborn cubs, is littered with relics of the humans, or Skinless Ones. Ages before, Skinless cut down the trees and nearly drove hunting animals, or voras, into extinction until the Ogeema (wolves) eradicated them. When a human starship crashes in the Forest, Casseomea discovers a human boy in the wreckage. Instinct compels her to save this cub who is “not so different from the ones she lost.” Determined the new Skinless One will “upset the order of the Forest,” the Ogeema pursue Casseomae, who flees with the boy. She is joined by Dumpster, a sassy, street-smart rat, and Pang, an outcast dog. Together they travel along overgrown highways, past abandoned power lines, gas stations and garbage dumps to ruined cities, seeking a safe haven. In contrast to the somewhat bleak social commentary, Casseomae’s unwavering hope for the silent boy in her care never waivers. Appropriately, animal characters are fully developed and complex while the boy remains a pivotal unknown.

Compelling animal fantasy grounded in ecological warnings."

Booklist, May 15, 2012:
"The folklore staple of a human child raised by wild beasts gets a postapocalyptic twist in Bemis’ novel. Humans, known as Skinless Ones, Old Devils, or Companions—depending on who is speaking of them—are supposedly extinct. Their cities are empty and the Forest is now controlled by vicious packs of wolves, who claim to have exterminated the humans, and who maintain a strict hierarchy in which formerly domestic pets are despised by the wild animals. When childless bear Casseomae rescues a boy “cub,” the sole survivor of a spaceship crash, she sets off to find a place where she can raise him in safety, away from the wolves and dogs who wish to claim him alternately as a sacrifice and a savior. This is a thoughtful fantasy, rich in characterization and drama, with a unique language that is simultaneously ancient and familiar. Bemis creates a believable reality in which all that is left of humanity is the oral tradition of rats (who lived among humans without befriending them)—by passing on stories, the rats preserve the truth."

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, July/August, 2012:

"In this intriguing animal fantasy turned post-apocalyptic tale, an old bear defies the traditions of her world to care for an orphaned human boy. Casseomae’s peaceful ursine existence living and foraging among the ruins of the “Skinless Ones” (i.e., humans, whose dominance over the natural world was finally brought to an end by the wolves long ago) is interrupted when a “metal bird” crashes near her home and the old bear discovers a human boy among the wreckage. Reminded of the many cubs lost to her, Casseomae is drawn to protect the boy, despite the fact that the Forest’s ruler, the wolfish Ogeema, will most certainly want this new Skinless One dead; with the help of a clever but temperamental rat and a faithful dog, Casseomae leaves her territory in search of a safe place to raise the boy herself. This isn’t a warm and fuzzy animal fantasy but a bleak-toned tale of pointed social commentary; the animal characters are deftly drawn, reflecting the strict, heartless survival code that defines their existence, while a few terrifically poignant moments reveal their more benevolent, relatable attributes. Fans of zombie books and other end-of-the-world scenarios will be thrilled by the multiple chase scenes and the death-at-every-turn motif, and the clearly built world and brisk dialogue will make this an easy transition for middle-school readers looking to jump on the YA dystopia bandwagon."

About the Author

JOHN CLAUDE BEMIS is the author of the Clockwork Dark, a fantasy-steampunk trilogy composed of The Nine Pound Hammer, The Wolf Tree, and The White City. His books have been described as "original and fresh" and "a unique way of creating fantasy." John lives with his wife and daughter in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Visit John's website at

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037586752X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375867521
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,655,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Claude Bemis grew up in rural eastern North Carolina, where he loved reading the Jack tales and African American trickster stories, as well as fantasy and science fiction classics. A songwriter and musician in an Americana roots band, John found inspiration for his fiction in old-time country and blues music and the Southern folklore at its heart. His grandfather, a train hopper, also had a hand in inspiring John with curious stories of America's lost past. At UNC-Chapel Hill, John studied Art History and Elementary Education. He taught elementary school for twelve years, mostly 4th and 5th grades as well as being a Gifted Education resource teacher. John lives a small-town life in Hillsborough, North Carolina with his wife and daughter.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sandra K. Stiles on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is one author who has that magical touch that allows his animals to become somewhat human. In a world where the humans are supposedly extinct, a bear and rat find themselves protecting a child who fell from the sky. When a flying craft crashes in the forest, Dumpster, a rat and Casseomae find themselves the protector of the only survivor, a young boy. The animals of the forest call humans the "skinless ones". As you read you realize they have many prejudices against humans based on what they have heard from tales passed down. I thought it interesting that Dumpster was the keeper of the memories. He is despised by others in the forest because he lived among the humans. Dogs are even lower on the list because they lived with the humans.

Knowing this small boy or cub as Casseomae calls him will not harm them, she sets out to get him to safety. When word of the child reaches their leader Ogeema, he is determined to kill the child. I loved the bond between the bear and the boy. I loved the way Dumpster pretended he didn't care about the boy and that he was nothing but trouble. His actions proved different. This reminded me of the movie "Ice Age" where the wooly mammoth was determined to get the small boy back to his people.

I loved the writing style. Bemis did not tell the names of animals. He described them through the eyes of the band of animals traveling together. When Casseomae comes upon her first strange animal she described it as a "strange deer. It had an exceptionally long neck ....she could make out spots over its coat, large brown blots against a field of tawny yellow." (Page 193) It would have been so much easier to just say they saw the carcass of a dead giraffe. His descriptions showed the animals as intelligent but not all knowing. I had not read his previous trilogy The Clockwork Dark, but will definitely do so now. This is an author I will proudly recommend to all of my students and parents.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Emily (Book Jems) on January 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Prince Who Fell from the Sky is a great novel for children and adults alike. I don't read a lot of children's books. This was the first middle-grade that I've read this year and I'm glad I read it. I think that a lot of adults will enjoy it as well!

This was a cute story that I would definitely read to my children. It's sweet and much different than anything I've ever read, in a good way. It's entertaining and light-hearted, definitely something that many kids will enjoy. And though it reads like a fantasy, it's really based here on Earth, but from a different point-of-view.

This book is not told by human perspective. And no, it's not alien's either. The Prince Who Fell from the Sky is actually written in the point-of-view of a bear named Cassomae. Cassomae is a lonely old bear, who seems to have really just given up on life. She has no cubs, no mate and is an outcast in her clan. When a ship crashes near her home, she finds a young human inside. Humans in this story are known as Skinless Ones and Companions. Cassomae takes it upon herself to keep the human safe, she calls him her cub and is determined to protect him like she couldn't protect her stillborns. She is not the only one who knows of the boy though. Soon it is known by all of the inhabitants of the land, including the cruel dictator, the Ogeema, who wants the boy dead. The adventure that occurs as she keeps the human child safe will keep you entranced.

The writing is fresh and poetic. The constant references to nature dazzled me. One of my favorite passages from the novel is the very first paragraph:
"The Forest was green with summer when the bear lumbered up from the creek bed where she had been cooling off. As she crested the bank, she paused to sniff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kiersten Dart on December 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this captivating story. It has all the action and excitement of a classic children's page-turner but is still appropriate for young audiences. The author does a great job at painting a unique picture of humans from a bear's and rat's perspective. The odd group of travelers makes interesting relationship dynamics. The loyalty that grows between these main characters in their quest to protect a human boy is heartwarming. All in all, a fun read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on June 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In the world of John Claude Bemis' THE PRINCE WHO FELL FROM THE SKY, humans are no more. These "Skinless Ones," as the animals call them, once ruled over the vast forests and, indeed, the whole world, but have since vanished. Now, the wolves and the bears reign over the arboreal expanse, but something might be coming to disturb their harmony...

Casseomae would be a "lone wolf" --- if she wasn't already a bear. This solitary mama-type has always wanted cubs of her own, but despite her best efforts, has never been able to have a family. She did nurse an orphaned cub to health years ago, only to have that baby bear, Alioth, grow up to rule the bear clan that lives in her forest. Casseomae spends her days hunting, lazing about in the meadows and scaring off any rogue animals that get too close to her den.

All that changes when one particularly adventurous pack of coyotes chases a wily rat into her clearing. Casseomae defends the four-footed creature, named Dumpster, who is accused of having served the Skinless Ones by living off their refuse in cities. Dumpster is the chief bard, or "Memory," of his rat clan, or "mischief." He remembers all the old stories and tales from generations of rodents past.

One thing Dumpster definitely remembers is the smell of Skinless Ones. Thus, when a flaming object comes hurtling down out of the sky and crash-lands in the forest, he recognizes an all-too-familiar smell: the scent of Skinless Ones. He goes inside the broken vehicle and recognizes bodies, all dead except one, a Skinless cub. The coyotes chasing him turn their attention to the baby, about to devour him, when Casseomae intervenes.

Never a mother herself, she longs to defend the poor, innocent child.
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