From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8-A rousing, captivating story that combines action, suspense, and a host of interesting characters. Bird, a brave and independent orphan girl, travels at night to find Farwender with the hope that he can save baby Piper's life. With this action, she is introduced to a world beyond her imagination. Farwender is a leader among people loyal to the Holder, who stands for right against the evil Rendarren. He sends Bird to live with the lovely Soladin and a small group of children in a place of peace and happiness. Given a special locket containing the seed of the Tree that speaks, Bird learns that she has been chosen to carry this seed to the garden where it will be planted again. Their pleasant life ends suddenly when Soladin and Farwender are captured by Rendarren and his Searchers. Accompanied by Farwender's chimera, the children set off on a difficult, life-threatening journey in search of the place where the seed must be planted. As in the best of fantasies, the quest is full of adventure and danger, close calls, and a desperate situation before good triumphs in the end. The children are often incredibly brave and at the same time they are believable. Quotations from old "documents" of Wen at the head of chapters add to the depth of the tale and reveal how Soladin's earlier mistakes helped the forces of evil to succeed. Children will sigh with satisfaction when they finish reading this page-turner.Jane G. Connor, South Carolina State Library, Columbia
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4-7. After a baby in the village contracts an illness, Bird runs to get the wise man, Farwender. She returns not only with the man but also with a white kitten and a chimera, a beast with the head of a lion and the tail of a venomous snake. Unfortunately, Bird's standing by and watching Farwender administer a forbidden healing liquid to the child puts her life in great danger. The wise man takes her to a remote cottage, where she becomes part of a family that includes three orphans, and where she discovers that she is the prophesied Opener Child, the only person able to open the locket containing the last seed of the sacred Tree That Speaks. On a rampage through the countryside that killed many people, including children, the evil ruler Rendarren destroyed the tree. Now, Rendarren is after Bird. This riveting first novel not only enriches the traditional conventions of the fantasy genre but also conveys a strong sense of human frailty, determination, and courage as it follows Bird and her companions in their hazardous quest to defeat Rendarren and plant the seed that will "wake the Tree to life again" and restore the land. Sally EstesCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved