In a cozy hollow tree live Heather and Picket, two rabbits who know adventure mainly from their parents’ stories of olden times. Then evil invades their sheltered lives. Wicked wolves tear through the forest, chasing the siblings away from home and into the woodland resistance as heralds of a promised “mended wood.” S. D. Smith’s The Green Ember, book 1 of the Green Ember series, presents a surprisingly earnest epic about small creatures drawn into big spiritual ideas. With deceptively simple style and confident voice, Smith’s tale honors incarnate virtue among dashing plot turns, complex animal politics, and genuinely frightening foes.
Best for: Middle-grade readers and any fans of Redwall’s or Narnia’s talking beasts.
Discern: Dark enemies chase and threaten children, non-detailed scenes show heroes’ and villains’ injuries and deaths, children are traumatized by loss and possible deaths of parents, boy struggles with resulting anger and bitterness, two siblings must confront false accusations along with their family’s actual dark past.