Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic (MG)

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Jennifer Trafton. With illustrations by Brett Helquist. 2010. Penguin. 352 pages.

From the prologue: There is a very good possibility that you will not believe a word I say. Alas, it is the risk all historians take. The truest things are often the most unbelievable.
There is an island in the world, a small but lovely piece of earth, which its inhabitants call (rightly or wrongly) the Island at the Center of Everything. On the day before my story begins, it was as nearly perfect a place as an island in the world could reasonably expect to be.
From the first chapter: On a dark night in a dense forest while the great wide wonder of the stormy sky threatened to burst through the trees and swallow her up, a girl lost her hat.
This would not be an event worth recording in the annals of history, except that the girl not only lost her hat, she lost her head. Which is to say, she panicked. When a gust of wind swept off her hat and sent it flying above the trees, she left the path she had been so carefully following to run after the vanishing blue speck. It is not surprising that when she finally recovered her head and sat down to think, she realized that she had now lost both her hat and her way home. 

I loved The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. I just LOVED it. For me, at least, it falls into the practically-perfect-in-every-way category of books. The kind of book that you read and instantly fall in love with. The kind of book that you want to reread again and again. The kind of book that you want EVERYONE to know about so they can read it themselves and discover how wonderful it is.

Persimmony Smudge, our heroine, lost her hat and thus saved the world. For if she hadn't lost her hat, she wouldn't have gotten lost. And if she hadn't gotten lost, she wouldn't have been chased. And if she hadn't been chased, she wouldn't have sought refuge in a hollow tree. And if she hadn't been hiding in that tree, she wouldn't have heard the conspirators talking about digging for the king's gold. And if she hadn't heard about the gold, she wouldn't have known to warn the King. And if she hadn't warned the King, she would have never been sent on her quest. And that quest turned out to be oh-so-important. To the king, it was a joke. But some dangers shouldn't be laughed at! Especially when that danger is...

Well, of course, I'm NOT going to tell you!!!

This book is delightful. It's just a JOY to read this one! Great story! Great writing! Great characters! I loved Persimmony. I loved the characters she meets along the way. Some, of course, are friendly. Others not so much. King Lucas the Loftier, for example, is SUCH a brat when we first meet him. I liked Worvil the Worrier--he reminded me of Puddleglum from The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. And then there is the King's adviser, Professor Quibble. I loved the world she created. I enjoyed getting to know the different inhabitants of the island: the Leafeaters, the Rumblebumps, and the humans (Sunspitters).

It's a fantasy novel and adventure story--complete with quest. It also has a fairy tale feel to it.

A broom. A hat. A girl. A hole. Such small things in a big world. But without the small things, there would be no story to tell, and--most importantly--I would not still be alive to tell it. (14)

"I need more pepper. I can't live without pepper! Don't you know that my thirteenth birthday is less than two weeks away? How can I have a birthday party without any pepper to serve my guests? It would be...It would be...It would be extremely discumbersomebubblating."
"I beg your pardon, Your Highness, but I believe you mean discombobulating."
"How dare you tell me what I mean, Nubbins?"
"Of course, of course, forgive me! I did not hear you correctly at first. I often feel discumbersomebubblated myself."
"You do not. No one can feel discumbersomebubblated except a king." (18)

"Why don't you just build another house in a tree that stays put?"
"You mean move again?" he groaned.
"Well, anyway, that was brave of you, jumping onto a moving tree like that," she said, trying to make him feel better.
Worvil sat up quickly. "Brave? Was that brave? Oh, no! I'll never do it again, I promise."
"But someday you might--"
"DON'T! Don't say that word!"
"What word? I didn't even get a chance to finish!"
"You said might!" Worvil covered his face with his hands. "Of all the words that have ever been invented, that is the worst. All of the terror in the world hangs on the word might. The Leafeaters might kidnap me and keep me locked up underground forever. They might tie me to a tree and leave me to be eaten by poison-tongued jumping tortoises. A hurricane might flood the Willow Woods and both of us drown.."
"Well, there certainly isn't much chance of that happening!" said Persimmony. "The sun is shining and there isn't a cloud in the sky."
"But it might. Anything might happen."
"Right. You might find your house again and live happily ever after."
"But I might not."
Persimmony stared at Worvil and discovered that she liked him. He was a coward, certainly, but he had Imagination. She liked people with Imagination. (42-43)

Life is a mess and a miracle. So pick up a broom and dance. (328)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

Carl V. 10:10 AM  

This one does sound very, very good. Don't you just love those books that excite you so much you just want everyone to read them?

I could easily buy every single book Brett Helquist illustrates just for the illustrations. I really and truly love his work.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word 8:21 AM  

I loved this one, too!

Denise 5:31 PM  

WOW! You sold me on it.Now,remember I'm 59-This isn't just for young readers is it?

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

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