Thursday, January 19, 2012

Little Fur Book One from The Legend of Little Fur by Isobelle Carmody

This book has been our library shelves for quite a long time. I do recommend this series to our students from time to time but until now I had not actually read any. (I am never sure I should do this but it is impossible to read every book and I once heard Nancy Pearl say it is fine to recommend books you have not actually read yourself). By chance I found the CD of book two from this series at a sale and so today I decided to read Little Fur so A Fox called Sorrow on CD will make sense.

I love the writing of Isobelle Carmody and if you have read The Red Wind then you will be sure to make lots of connections with this earlier book Little Fur from the series The Legend of Little Fur.

From the opening lines the scene is set of a human world filled with destruction and a small forest of seven precious trees called the Old Ones. Little Fur is an elf troll and therefore of mixed blood. She is also a healer and protector of the trees. Various animals come to Little Fur for healing and she has a collection of poltices, salves and tisanes for this purpose. News reaches Little Fur that the humans are burning the trees. She realizes her precious Old Ones are in great danger. Little Fur needs to seek advice so she undertakes an extremely dangerous journey to talk with Sett Owl the wisest creature of the area. She is accompanyed by a crow and two cats. The owl advises her to find a mysterious creature living deep in a crevasse. So Little Fur has to continue her awful journey through the desolate human landscape. Making all this more difficult is Little Fur’s need to stay in contact with the earth at all times. She cannot walk on man-made surfaces like roads or concrete. Her powers and connection to the Old Ones will be lost if she breaks this contact with the earth.

I love three aspects of the story – the illustrations by Isobelle Carmody herself, the moments of extreme tension when Little Fur is attacked by dogs, trains, and trolls, and I especially like the vocabulary used by Isobelle Carmody. She certainly does not talk down to her audience with words like abide, craned, haughty, revulsion, befallen, interrogated and braided.

One of the best scenes is when Little Fur reaches the human cemetery. She has no real understanding of what she sees and cannot understand human speech but she is always in touch with the emotions of any situation. “All of the humans began to sing. The sweetness and beauty of their song took her breath away, but more than that, she was astonished to smell that, as they sang, their grief was gentled and lightened. It was as if their singing was healing them.”

Here are two quotes from newspaper reviewers which I think get close to the heart of Little Fur :

'Isobelle Carmody's Legend of Little Fur books evoke a dreamlike sense of warmth and tenderness.' Sydney Morning Herald

'Isobelle Carmody's impish, environmentally passionate character is completely convincing, taking readers into a world that's familiar, and yet in Carmody's hands, refreshingly original.' Sunday Age

Little Fur is a wonderful book. It is a fantasy but it is also a love story. Little Fur loves the Old Ones and this is what drives her desire to help her world. As in Max by Bob Graham – Little Fur is a small hero … and the world needs more of these.

There are four books in the Legend of Little Fur series and I look forward to continuing my journey knowing I am in the safe hands of a wonderful storyteller. I highly recommend Little Fur for Middle and Upper Primary readers.

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