Today I’m on the tour for a super sweet middle grade book with some important messages about taking care of the countryside!
Book: The Ring of Gilly Wood by Ruth Banister
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided by author for fair review. All opinions my own.
Publication: 10th October 2018. Amazon affiliate link here.
‘There he is,’ whispered Vixen. ‘It’s true then,’ said Buck Rabbit. ‘He’s just a small mole,’ said Doe Rabbit. ‘He’s not just a mole,’ said Vixen.
A great queen loses a ring. Hundreds of years later, a ring slips onto the paw of a young mole. The mole grows to be a wise and trusted leader of Gilly Wood and all the animals that live there. But a great threat is coming. Can one small mole save a whole valley? Mole sets out to do just that with friends he makes along the way and the strange thing on his paw…
This book is so sweet! I think it will really appeal to people who loved The Animals of Farthing Wood, as it has a similar atmosphere of the woodland animals banding together to survive the impact of human expansion. Mole is a wonderful character, full of compassion and fight, and I loved seeing him work out how to be the most useful he could be to his home. Owl, too, is lovely – a really good friend and the voice of common sense that Mole needs to support him. The book really lovingly considers the animal point-of-view, but manages to avoid being preachy about wildlife conservation – I know this would have had an impact on me as a wildlife-loving kid!
The book mainly takes place in the modern day, and doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of animal life – though it’s not as traumatising as Watership Down, I promise! Some animals do die, so keep an eye on sensitive kids, but there’s a sense of hopefulness that runs throughout the book that I thought was really well done. When Mole and Owl make a human friend of schoolgirl Elizabeth, the animals gain so much from seeing that not all humans are like the hunters and estate developers that have been wrecking their lives. I could very much see myself in Elizabeth – it’s a pitch perfect depiction of a lonely kid with a love of animals. I loved that she got to help the woodland animals, and also discover a bit of faith in herself.
I also loved the prologue, which describes how Queen Elizabeth the First loses a ring after stopping to cool off in a river. It’s a really joyful little scene, and it’s cleverly worked into the main story, which takes place much later on. I think that the author should try a fully historical book next, because she made it really engaging!
Overall, this is an adorable read that should please animal-lovers and MG readers alike. Four out of five cats from me!
About the Author
Ruth was born on a hot August day on a farm in Sussex. Her English teacher once made her write a story about wasps after one landed on her during a lesson. She still hates wasps but she loves writing. Ruth now lives in Kent with her family and their strange dog. You can keep in touch with her at her website.
And last but not least, don’t forget to check out the other stops on this tour!