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Children's Literature Reviews
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The Ancient One
T.A. Barron.
Contributor biographical information
Publisher description
New York : Philomel Books, 1992.
367 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


Companion vol. to: Heartlight.
While helping her Great Aunt Melanie try to protect an Oregon redwood forest from loggers, thirteen-year-old Kate goes back five centuries through a time tunnel and faces the evil creature Gashra, who is bent on destroying the same forest.

Best Books:

Best Books, 1992 ; Parents Magazine; United States
Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Twelfth Edition, 1995 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Young Adults' Choices, 1994 ; International Reading Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature, 1993 Finalist United States

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 1994 ; Nominee; Colorado
Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 1997-98 ; Nominee; Colorado

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader" "
Interest Level Upper Grade" "
Book Level 6.1" "
Accelerated Reader Points 14" "
Accelerated Vocabulary" "

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 7
Title Point Value 18
Lexile Measure 910


Sally Estes (Booklist, Sept. 1, 1992 (Vol. 89, No. 1))
Visiting her Aunt Melanie in Oregon, 13-year-old Kate becomes involved in a logger-environmentalist conflict when a virgin stand of redwood old growth is discovered in the heretofore fog-shrouded Lost Crater. Holding her aunt's owl-headed walking stick, Kate is thrust back in time, where she meets Laioni, a member of an Indian tribe that vanished centuries earlier. Kate soon finds herself fighting to save the forest not only in her own time, but also in the distant past. The typical stuff of fantasy is all here: a likable hero and her companions, allies and enemies, battles and death, a quest for a lost amulet needed to overcome evil, etc. But what starts out as a convincing fantasy rooted in contemporary times and issues runs amok when the story rises to a crescendo (you can hear the music also rising in the background) for the confrontation between the forces of good (Kate) and the forces of evil (a "colossal," "great," "gigantic," "towering red beast, with the head and body of a Tyrannosaurus rex and the enlarged arms and legs of a human . . . part dinosaur, part man, part octopus . . . ," with "bulbous black eyes," "deep purple lips," and "teeth-studded jaws," "a many-toothed grin," and a "gargantuan smile," with "a few dozen teeth"). At this point, the story is so vastly overwritten, melodramatic, and cliche- and adjective-ridden that the almost too strong environmental message is nearly lost. That's a pity, because the author is obviously truly concerned, and his scenes of the Northwest wilderness are right on target. Despite the excesses, readers will be drawn in at the start and will want to know the outcome. Category: Older Readers. 1992, Putnam/Philomel, $17.95. Gr. 6-9.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1992)
A long but well-peopled fantasy with a strong environmental message. When Kate, 13, tries to help stop a group of unemployed Oregon loggers from cutting a unique stand of redwoods, she's cast back five centuries and propelled into the struggle against Gashra, a megalomaniac volcano creature with a very real "scorched earth policy." The strongest feature of this novel is not the wandering, predictable plot but the colorful cast, especially the nonhumans--boulder-like Stonehags, many-eyed underwater Guardians, lizard-folk, owl-folk, and (best of all) the monstrous Gashra, a delicious combination of tyrannosaur, octopus, and two-year-old--who add a strong dash of humor as well as occasional prophecies and rescues. In the end, Kate recovers a stolen power crystal, sends Gashra back into the earth for a few more centuries (take heed), and returns to her own time to witness one last desperate logger felling the oldest redwood just before a protective injunction takes effect. Barron shows some understanding of the loggers' plight, but pushes concepts like the interconnectedness of nature, our arrogance toward the environment, and the necessity of preservation (both directly and metaphorically). Still, much better wrought than the author's tedious Heartlight (1990). 1992, Philomel/Putnam, $17.95. © 1992 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
When an untouched forest of ancient redwoods is discovered on Native American holy grounds in the Oregon wilderness, a band of unemployed loggers sees only an opportunity to earn a living, not thinking of either the ecological or the spiritual consequences of felling the trees. Anxious to preserve the wilderness, Kate (the heroine of Barron's debut novel, Heartlight ) and her great-aunt Melanie set off to stop the loggers. Once in the forest, Kate is catapulted 500 years into the past, where she is caught in a fatal struggle over the very same wilderness. Kate's quest--to help the forces of light and love prevail over Gashra, the Wicked One, and his forces of greed and death--resonates through time, influencing events set in the past as well as those set in the present. This fantasy adventure offers well-realized characters, imaginative situations, high-minded theme and purpose, complex emotion, a smattering of really good fight scenes and a healthy dose of slapstick humor. Working with elements inspired by American Indian lore, the Lost World stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs and A. Merrit, and the works of C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle, Barron has woven a boldly original novel that is as thought-provoking as it is fun to read. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

Roger Sutton (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January 1993 (Vol. 46, No. 5))
In this earthbound companion to the space fantasy Heartlight (BCCB 12/90), Kate, mourning the death of her grandfather (while apparently forgetting the intergalactic quest the two shared in the first book), is visiting her great-aunt Melanie in Oregon and is soon swept into a controversy that pits Aunt Melanie against the logging industry. Kate is also soon swept a few centuries back in time, where she meets a fantasy Native American tribe called the Halami, a god-like owl-people called the Tinnanis, some lizard people called the Slimni, and their evil leader Gashra. Perhaps due to the fact that the setting is a large volcanic crater, the action shifts rapidly: whenever trouble comes too close to Kate and her friends, a tremor shows up to help them along ("suddenly" is a favorite transitional adverb here). Like Heartlight, this novel owes too much to Madeline L'Engle; it also owes quite a bit to the Oz books. The tone is sometimes twee (the major helper figure is called Kandeldandel Zinzin) and the language clichéd ("'Aaarghh,' groaned the warrior"), and while the plethora of action, often violent, may draw in readers, there's a numbing predictability to events that vitiates their effectiveness. For fans of the first book, this is more of the same. M--Marginal book that is so slight in content or has so many weaknesses in style or format that it should be given careful consideration before purchase. (c) Copyright 1993, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 1992, Philomel, 367p, $17.95. Grades 4-8.


Time travel--Fiction.
Conservation of natural resources--Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.B27567 An 1992
91045862 [Fic]
0399218998 : $17.95 ($23.50 Can.)
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