Wednesday 28 July 2021

The Barren Grounds

Finished July 25
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

This is an amazing beginning to a series of books for kids. The two main characters are indigenous, and the main theme is around the environment and respect.
As you can see from the top of the cover, the series is called The Misewa Saga, and Misewa is the name of the village that the children travel to in the book.
Morgan has been in foster care as far back as she can remember. The couple she is with now are trying hard to make her feel welcome and at home, but she has a problem trusting them due to her past experiences. Eli has only been in care more recently and he has a lot of memories of his family and ties to the indigenous community. He has arrived at the same home as Morgan more recently.
Eli likes to draw and one drawing he made intrigues both children. 
Morgan has ventured into the attic of the house they live in, an area that is unfinished, but has some construction work partially done. A small closet-like space there has the door painted over, not opened in a long time and she retreats into that space when she needs to be alone. When she and Eli attach the picture he drew to the wall there it seems to come alive and connect their world to the wintry one they can see there. And the animal they see moves toward them. 
As the children react, Morgan is fearful, but Eli is curious and wants to explore this new world. When Morgan follows him, they discover a world where an outsider has upset the balance of nature and caused immense damage to the environment and the creatures who live there. Their initial contact is the creature they saw, Ochek (Fisher). With Eli familiar with the indigenous language, and some of the behaviours and activities, Morgan finds herself connecting to her own past in an unexpected way.  As they encounter another creature Arik (Squirrel), the discover that they may be able to help this world recover what has been lost.
I found this book reminded me a bit of the world of Narnia, with a doorway into a wintry world where creatures talk and walk like humans. But it has a distinctly indigenous element, with the language and the ties to the living world. 
This promises to be a very interesting series.

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