As was the case for many other people, The Hunger Games was a book that left a literary mark on me. Katniss Everdeen, as the symbol of hope for a broken land, was inspirational, even, and perhaps especially, as she did not ask for the role she was given. Finding other stories like this—particularly when uniquely presented—is very exciting.
The Kingdom of Secrets by Christyne Morrell takes some of the themes found within The Hunger Games and places them in an entirely unexpected context. Prismena Reece, the primary protagonist, is the daughter of a balloonist. All her life, she has helped with the creation of hot-air balloons but has never been trusted to fly them, herself. After the death of her mother, Prismena and her father became distant, her only memories stashed secretly away so they could be protected. A headstrong girl named Abigail Smeade finds her way into Prismena’s world, each ultimately helping the other in ways they could never have imagined. Please see my full review here.
By the end of this book, clues and links within the narrative become evident, lingering with me long after the story’s conclusion. I love how the plot is laid out, incorporating several seemingly disconnected elements into a cohesive whole. Written for a middle grade audience, this book is light on violence yet packs strong messages of allegiance and justice into the story. Set against the backdrop of hot-air balloons in a society that is just beginning to realize its potential, readers will be introduced to a mode of transportation that might at first be unfamiliar. However, by the end, readers will have a better sense of the functionality of hot-air balloons and will likely be inspired to study them more closely.
One of the most noteworthy elements of this book is that people are often described openly as white, black, tan, etc. This important consideration levels the playing field as far as race and prevents any one from being seen as either “other” or “expected.” Though this is not done for every character, it is a clear choice that separates this book from others in the genre.
This compelling and inspiring story is a highly recommended addition to middle grade libraries.
Do you know another great book I should feature in my blog? Message me here and let me know!