Leepike Ridge first came to my attention over the summer, when I read a review on a long-forgotten blog. Every so often I would search for it in a local bookstore, but it was never in-stock. I was again intrigued when it was nominated for the middle-grade Cybils and spent some more time searching for it. Finally, my wonderful media specialist ordered it for our school library. As soon as it was cataloged, covered, and put into circulation I snapped it up!
This is an awesome book! First of all, N.D. Wilson can write. I started out flagging the various passages that thrilled me in one way or another, but quickly ran out of steam. I was flagging something on every page! His sensory details, similes, metaphors, and all-around descriptions are mesmerizing. Take a moment and savor this, one of my favorite descriptions:
“After a few mouthfuls of moon-flavored air, even the stubbornly drowsy can find themselves wide-eyed. Tom was hardly drowsy, and he took more than a few mouthfuls. By the time he had reached the base of the rock, his senses were heightened nearly to the point of bursting. All of the normal noises of life were gone, leaving behind the secretive sounds, the shy sounds, the whispers and conversations of moss disputing with grass over some soft piece of earth, or the hummingbirds snoring…”
Just WOW. And every passage is like this! Even better, every passage is like while still being extremely readable and not overly academic. There are certain books that I consider well-written but I can not get a single child to pick up and read. They are too heavy-armed for many of my students. However, I know this will not be the case with Wilson’s novel. I’ve already recommended it to one of my students, a great adventure-lover.
Now for the story….Tom is a kid. He lives on top of a rock, in an old house that’s literally chained to the ground. He’s not too thrilled that his mom is considering marrying her boyfriend, Jeff, a teacher from his school. When a new refrigerator is delivered on the same day that his mother ponders accepting Jeff’s proposal, Tom takes the large box and sets off sailing down the creek that runs through his yard. Rebellious and angry, he rides the current for miles, eventually falling asleep. He awakens when the water becomes rough and he is suddenly pulled under a ridge and into the bowels of the mountain. He is alone, and trapped. Save for a dog and a corpse to keep him company….
I hesitate to summarize anymore of the plot for fear of spoilers. Tom is brave, scared, brilliant, naive, and in a million other ways a normal eleven year old boy. He is Robinson Crusoe. He is Odysseus. He is MacGuyver. He is eleven.
This is an adventure story; an Indiana Jones for a new generation, and Odyssey for a new century. I highly recommend it!
N.B. How can you not love a book that begins with one of the greatest leads I have ever encountered?
In the history of the world there have been lots of onces and lots of times, and every time has had a once upon it.Most people will tell you that the once upon a time happened in a land far, far away, but it really depends on where you are. The once upon a time may have been just outside your back door. It may have been beneath your very feet. It might not have been in a land at all but deep in the sea’s belly or bobbing around on its back.