Monday, December 14, 2020

MMGM: Green Ember

Although I’m not usually a fan of anthropomorphic books, my first pet was a rabbit, and I’ve always had a soft spot for bunnies. And then there’s Watership Down. I was sure I would not like a novel all about rabbits, but I loved it. It’s become part of our family culture.

We first heard about Green Ember from some friends whose reading tastes closely match our own. It seems to be all the rage in homeschooling circles, although it’s little known elsewhere.

So when my son devoured Green Ember and kept begging me to read it, I had to find out what all the fuss was about.

Synopsis from Amazon:

Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world.

Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend.

Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand?

What I liked:

1.  A brother and sister who like each other. It’s unusual to see siblings without rivalry in middle grade. Although sometimes Heather and Pickett argued at times, they always ultimately wanted to help each other, which was quite refreshing.

2. Picket’s character arc. I know some reviewers have complained that Picket is a little too whiny at times—and that’s certainly true. But I liked how he learned that it wasn’t anger itself that was bad, but what you do with it.

3.  Everyone has a calling. It was a given that all the rabbits have a gift to share with the world.  In the calling ceremony, the master and apprentice bind themselves to each other and the master says, “I bind you…to release you better still.” And storytelling is considered a high calling in this society!

4.   Backstory that is interesting. I liked the backstory of King Jupiter and his fall and betrayal and how that was a huge part of this society. I generally don’t like backstory, but his story, as told by Heather and Pickett’s dad and later by other characters, was interesting and rich.

5.   Themes of hope. The whole idea of the rabbits working and looking forward to a “Mended Wood” was lovely. A good reminder right now that this world is not all that there is.

6. Illustrations! You can tell from the cover that the illustrations (black and white inside the book) are beautiful and evoke that old fashioned fantasy. They add a lot to the story.

Minor Quibbles: While I really loved the beginning and ending of this book, I did struggle through the middle. There are a lot of characters and set up, which don’t get satisfied till the end or in the next book. However, I am not generally a fan of epic fantasy, so that might just be me.

Are you a fan of epic fantasy? What books have you loved lately?

To read more middle grade reviews or join in on the MMGM fun, please go to Greg Pattridge's blog Always in the Middle. 



  1. What a neat book! I don't read much epic fantasy, but this book does sound really good. I love that its protagonists are rabbits and siblings who like each other. I also enjoyed Watership Down, so I should look into this book. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Yes, I do like epic fantasy. Sorry that you struggled through the middle of it. But it's sweet that your son begged you to read it.

  3. I can't resist a book with rabbit characters. I raised them as a kid in 4H. Still have my champion ribbon! Enjoyed your review and I look forward to spending some time with Heather and Picket. Thanks for featuring this hidden gem on MMGM.

  4. I'm also intrigued by the rabbit characters! Don't read too much epic fantasy, but I don't mind reading one every once in a while.

  5. I don't read a whole lot of fantasy, but that cover! I think I would pick this one up. Thanks for your very thoughtful review.

  6. Oh, I can't wait to read this story. Thank you for putting it on my radar. My first pet was a white rabbit, and I saved many wild rabbits. But I love the theme of "Everyone has a calling" -- that is uniquely are own. That's why I want to read the book. Thanks for sharing!