Our rating: ****½

The Searat captain Vizka Longtooth captures a young badger, which he decides to tame. But Gorath (the badger) is angry at the rats for killing his grandparents, and he plans to escape as soon as he can. Meanwhile, badger lord Asheye has a dream, telling him that Salamandastron’s new badger ruler will be found defending Redwall Abbey. He sends out perilous hare Mad Maudie to find the badger and bring him back. If that wasn’t complicated enough, Redwall Abbey has also banished a young hedgehog thief, telling him not to come back for a whole season. The resulting tale does indeed end up making sense in true Redwall fashion.

Doing a review of a Redwall book is always a challenge. I have read all eighteen books before this one, and I already have a favorite picked out. That being said, Eulalia! certainly meets expectations. The characters are just as memorable as always, the story just as complicated, and the ending just as satisfying.

The Wind in the Willows

Our rating: *****

Mole, tired of spring cleaning, decides to leave his cozy little home and take a walk. His ramblings take him to The River, where he meets the Water Rat and the fun begins. Mole stays with Rat in his bank-side home and enjoys sharing the Rat’s love of boating. While staying there, Mole becomes friends with Otter, Mr. Badger, and Mr. Toad. Everything progresses nicely, until the Toad decides to try the wandering life of a gypsy and takes Mole and Rat along. In a highway accident, their lovely little cart is upset by a motorcar. The Mole and Rat are very annoyed, but Toad becomes infatuated with the speed and sound of motorcars and orders one of his own. Unfortunately, he disregards all rules. Badger, Rat, and Mole set out to help their friend over his dangerous driving habits, despite personal discomfort.

How to describe The Wind in the Willows? Sheer, wonderful bliss from beginning to end. There are so many adventures, so many thrills and joys. This is one of my favorite books. This is as good as it gets. (Unless you count Winnie-the-Pooh.) Don’t miss it! It’s perfect for children, young adults, and adults who are young or feel young. I have also enjoyed the audio book, read by Flo Gibson, on numerous occasions. I can close my eyes and hear whole parts of the book. A delightful story.

Charlotte’s Web

Our rating: ***

One morning Fern Arable, an eight year-old girl, learned her father was about to kill the runt of the new pig litter. She rushed to stop him and finally Mr. Arable agreed not to harm the pig. Mr. Arable gave the pig to Fern, and she eventually named him Wilbur. However, after a few weeks of happiness together, Mr. Arable told Fern that the pig would have to be sold. Wilbur was getting bigger, along with his appetite, and Mr. Arable wasn’t willing to feed the pig any longer. So Fern sorrowfully sold Wilbur to her Uncle Zuckerman’s farm nearby, where she could go and visit him. However, even with all Fern’s visits, Wilbur became lonely. But a spider named Charlotte was ready to be his friend and would also try to save him from being killed and made into bacon and ham.

A great book. For those who don’t like spiders, this book might help them feel a little more affectionate to the eight-legged insects. Maybe. No guarantees. And all readers should be prepared for a sad and perhaps unexpected part at the end. However, Templeton the rat is rather funny sometimes, and I really like the ending of this book.

The Story of Dr. Dolittle

Our rating: ****

Dr. Dolittle is the best doctor ever, but none of his patients will come because of his animal pets (think crocodiles!). Because of this, he can’t make any money. So his parrot teaches him how to speak to Jip, the dog. The doctor is eager to learn, and learns to talk to all his pets. All the animals hear about it, and come to him, and the house is crowded. Then a swallow comes with news of an epidemic among monkeys in Africa. Can Dr. Dolittle make it through storms, pirates and angry natives to help the monkeys?

Ah, Hugh Lofting has such a fun way of writing humorous, exciting stories. I didn’t even mention Gub-Gub, the food loving pig; Too-Too, the owl with a head for figures; or the cute little White Mouse who lives in the piano. Worth reading again and again.

Note: There has been a lot of controversy about Lofting’s books, because some people thought they were racist. Because of this, some newer editions don’t have portions that editors thought were offensive. I will say that I have read the originals, and found nothing wrong with them, merely a slight British patriotic spirit. If you want to read the originals, your library will be more likely to have them than the book store.

Journey to Freedom

Our rating: ****

Chip, the youngest in a family of white-feet, is told by Silver the prophet that he will be a great soldier. Eventually, Chip commands a part of soldiers called the Rag-Tags. The Rag-Tags are Ben, Singer, Budger, Trooper (a short-tailed shrew), Peedee and, of course, Chip. Join the white-feet as they fight against the brown rats and the Dread Deliverer, and as eventually most of them sail West.

This is a sort of allegory. I’d probably suggest it for 7 or 8 and up. Half of the Rag-Tags eventually die, but it’s still a pretty good book. This is the only book by Gilbert Morris I’ve read yet.