Silverwing (Book 1 in the Silverwing Series)
By Kenneth Oppel
Published: April 24, 1997 (2010 reprint edition)
Company: Harper Trophy Canada
I know I said I was going to review The Silvered by Tanya Huff to wrap up Canvember, but my friend Sarah asked if I could at some point talk about HER favourite children’s book. So for her I will talk about one of the best-selling and multiple award winning children’s book: Silverwing.
If I was to compare this to another series, I would say it is similar to the self-titled book Redwall but even that is not a completely accurate comparison since the character are anthropomorphic animals in Redwall while the characters in Silverwing are simply animals that can talk to each other, but retain their animal features. Despite this, I feel the tone of both books are similar since the animals are dealing with the threat of confrontation and war from other animals. Even with the threat of this confrontation and war, the tone through the two books are light and never gets down on itself, making it appropriate for a children to read.
Despite the animals being the characters in the book, they do encounter humans and human society. The animals seems to know bits and pieces of what humans are and about human society, but do not fully understand it and do not understand human speech. When a human is mentioned to be talking, their voice is described as a low, deep, slow sound that the animals cannot comprehend. That makes it clear that the reason why we can understand the animals talking to each other is because we are understanding it through the main character Shade, and without that understanding, we would only be able to ‘hear’ strange noises. The animals don’t have any reason to learn about human speech patterns as they have their own lives/society to worry and focus on.
There are no elements of magic or mysticism: the events that happen are based within the boundaries of reality and what the creatures can and cannot do. This makes it a bit different from The Secret of NIMH that has anthropomorphic animals [like Redwall], interact with humans and human society [like Silverwing] but the animals experience extended intelligence, such as the ability to read and operate human machinery, extended life, and a magical amulet.
Another nice feature of the book are the simplistic black and white illustrations done by David Frankland. This would be a nice thing to have if the book was being read aloud to children in a group setting.
I found it interesting that the chief elder of the Silverwing tribe, Frieda, is a female and that other elders of the tribe are female as well. Since the females & children live separately from the males when they are not hibernating, I wonder if there is a change in power dynamic when both groups rejoin in the winter or if the females normally that up the leadership roles. I am not even certain what the males do during the period of separation. It could be explained in the book and I simply do not remember it but I find it to be odd.
I found the pacing of the story to be rather good and steady and I did not want to put the book down once I started to read it. Definitely a must read for anyone at any age.
Questions? Suggestions?? Feel free to put it down in the comments below. One more post left for Canvember 2013!
- Silverwing (romsreads.wordpress.com)
- Author Visit: Kenneth Oppel (boiseweekly.com)
- Silverwinged Success (iamthesizzler.wordpress.com)