By world-renowned musician, environmentalist, and humanitarian Dave Matthews, an exciting and poignant fantasy set in wondrous natural environments about a girl who must summon the courage to face her own mistakes before she can help save her peaceful community from a gigantic threat.
Kirra, a curious, agile, and outgoing girl, lives in an idyllic community hidden inside a dormant volcano. She and her father are the only two people allowed to venture beyond its walls. Kirra is in training to become a Storyteller like him, and together they travel from village to village spreading fearsome tales designed to keep outsiders away from their secret nest. One day, after hearing rumors of strangers called the "Takers," Kirra leaves the volcano by herself, hoping to discover her own story. But she unknowingly leads the Takers back to her doorstep, and they rob her of everything she has ever held dear. A devastated Kirra is found by a boy named Luwan and adopted into his family, which lives among others high in the trees of a dense forest. Now quiet and withdrawn, Kirra hides her dark past from everyone and never wants to leave the safety of her tree dwelling. Luwan, on the other hand, loves to explore. One day it leads to trouble: He is captured while spying on a group of strangers. The Takers have returned. To save the Tree Folk, Kirra must face her inner demons and summon all her storytelling to weave the most important tale of her life. This compelling novel about overcoming loss, embracing community, and living in harmony with nature is highlighted with a full-color insert of concept artwork, making it perfect for family sharing.
The importance of community and collaboration underlies this didactic, fast-paced adventure, by musician Matthews and children's author Smith (Mr. 60%), about a 14-year-old girl with repressed trauma. Part one finds 10-year-old Kirra living with her family in bustling Zedu, hidden within a dormant volcano. As Helper to the Storyteller, Kirra is allowed to go Outside, where her father protects Zedu by spreading tales of volcanic danger to other villages. A well-intentioned decision by Kirra, however, leads to the village's violent destruction by ruthless invaders called Takers. Four years later, Kirra, the only survivor, quietly lives among the peacefully coexisting but solitary Tree Folk. When the Takers return and threaten her new home, Kirra must find the strength to face her past and rally the treetop dwellers to collective action, working with friends to design and deploy fearsome, cleverly engineered wooden giants. An ambiguous ending with loose ends perhaps hints at a sequel, but readers will appreciate the triumphant growth of Kirra and her adoptive community, who choose to embrace the potential and pain of connection. Ages 8 12.