The Rising by Tom Moorhouse

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The Rising by Tom Moorhouse

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Lovely story of water voles on a quest to save their community from an awful peril. Great nature writing and fabulous characters.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: October 2014
Publisher: OUP
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0192734822

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Strife and Kale are two young water voles who can sniff out trouble better than their careful sister Ivy and to the fury of their protective mother, Aven. They just can't help it. But Kale isn't telling Strife everything - he has a secret. When long-lost Uncle Sylvan arrives warning of danger and the siblings eavesdrop on the adults' conversation, Kale's secret is exposed. Even though she doesn't fully understand it, Strife follows her brother into danger to avert a bigger danger. The quest on which these two young water voles embark will test them to their limits and they'll need all the help Uncle Sylvan and Fodur the rat can provide...

This is a lovely story, beautifully written. It features characters from Moorhouse's previous book, The River Singers in Sylvan, Fern, Aven and Fodur. But it also introduces a new generation of water voles in Strife, Kale and Ivy. I'm already looking forward to a third story - I don't want to give any spoilers but I think I know where it might go and it's testament to the strength of the world Moorhouse has created that I'm hoping it won't be too long before I get to read it.

As my Bookbag colleague Anne pointed out in her review of The River Singers, the joy here is that Woodhouse has painted a really credible picture of water vole society but also that the themes of courage in adversity and loyalty to friends and family are as applicable to the children of human beings as they are to the pups of aquatic rodents. The challenges faced by Strife and Kale are relatable and identifiable. And yet, these are unmistakeably animal characters. Their life myths are different. Their conventions are different. Their dangers are different.

I loved stroppy little Strife, who thinks that if one word is good then ten thousand words are ten thousand times as good. She has a terrific talent for nagging and ranting but her heart is always in the right place. And I loved Kale, who can't help but respond to the song of the river inside his head. And there won't be a reader who doesn't love Fodur, the ageing rat who has found a home and a family among the water voles.

Can the river singers avert catastrophe? Read the book and see. You won't regret it, I promise. There's a world to remember here.

For more wonderful nature writing, this time with human protagonists interacting with animals, try Sky Hawk and White Dolphin, both by Gill Lewis.

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