Runt the Brave

Daniel Schwabauer. AMG/Living Ink (www.amgpublishers.com), $12.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-89957-848-4
This originally self-published fantasy novel chronicles the adventures of JaRed, the titular field mouse born a runt. Out foraging one day, JaRed runs into two rats, who may be the advance guard of an attack on the mouse city Tira-Nor. When JaRed returns home, the old seer TaMir tells the little mouse he is destined to be the next king. Encounter by frightening encounter, JaRed grows into what has been foretold. Schwabauer's rendering of the archetypal heroic journey is fresh. As in the best fantasies, the author's imagination conjures a whole world, with a theology, cosmogony, and set of customs; the book includes a glossary and a short appendix explaining the naming traditions of the mice. The familiar hero's journey has immediate relevance for young readers; the cover trumpets a story of "bravery in the midst of a bully society." Even without that hook, it's a fine, thoroughly imagined, absorbing read. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/29/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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