The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 13, 2012
So concludes the hamster in Brian Wapole’s youth/crossover novel, The Feast of the Moon, released January 2012, available in paperback through Amazon.com and as an e-book through Amazon-Kindle, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.
The hamster – who would be insulted to learn he was given a name – is born on a prairie preserve surrounded by subdivisions. While still a pup he is snatched from his burrow by a human and given to a pre-teen girl. Under her care he studies the baffling ways of these curious creatures, learning the surprising concept of friendship.
He puts this concept to the test when after escaping back into the prairie he realizes that he has little idea how to survive there. All depends on how well he has learned his lessons from his beloved human friend.
Unlike other popular fiction featuring animal narrators, The Feast of the Moon does not rely on gimmicky plot tricks, hijinks or pop culture asides. In the tradition of Watership Down, The Wind in the Willows, the Winnie the Pooh stories and Animal Farm – classic fiction with deftly-drawn characters – the novel excites the intelligence and emotions of junior high readers and their parents, alike.
In Wapole’s tale, an intrepid young hamster narrates its own story, beginning with its life in the wild, extending to its capture by humans, its escape back to the wild, its raising of a family and its eventual reconciliation with its human family, most particularly with its primary owner, a little girl the hamster nicknames Chipmunk—a derisive name that becomes affectionate over time (“How much contempt did I have for this noisy, irritating little human that I called her Chipmunk?” the central hamster reflects at one point, “Now, the name might mean cherish, itself”). Along the way readers get plenty of hamster lore. “Always, when humans are near, a hamster’s peace is scattered like Maple seeds,” says the hamster. “The flurry of activity catches us in a sudden gust of spinning, spinning, until it dies and all is still again, as if stillness was the only mood of the world.” In such passages, Wapole displays a poetic sensibility. There’s strong, elegant writing here. —Kirkus Reviews
Mary Jane Grinstead, author and aunt to Kyle, a great hamster fan says, “I was entirely hooked by the story. It’s wry, witty and touching in all the right places, and altogether believable. I wanted to know what happened next. There are profound ideas about friends and enemies and lessons appropriate for all humans throughout. This is a great story for children reading chapter books and would also be excellent to read to a younger child a chapter a night.”
Amy Alessio, author of the Alana O’Neill Mysteries series writes, “It is hard to believe that this is the author’s first book, as it is so well-written. In the tradition of Ben and Me or Watership Down, this hamster will make you want to own one. The intelligence and beautiful imagery begin on page one, but it was the humor and action that kept me reading. I highly recommend this to readers young and old and am looking forward to his next book.”
Glen Philips, Publisher of Front Porch Review: As a publisher my primary interest is identifying a work’s intended audience. Simply put, The Feast of the Moon appropriately addresses the needs and wants of its audience. Its emphasis on diligence, resourcefulness and conflict resolution speaks to core human values which transcend time and space and age. Younger readers will need adults to interpret some passages, but this is a learning experience as old as the written word.
Brian Wapole, a former high school English teacher for the Chicago Public Schools, is a freelance writer, private tutor and fiction expert for the STDL. Brian is currently writing a prequel to The Feast of the Moon. His second novel, about the ghost of a teenage boy trying to make the most of his death, will be published later this year.
To learn more, visit: http://brianwapole.com/
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