Friday, December 10, 2010

22. A Giant Problem

The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, by Jennifer Trafton, art by Brett Helquist, Dial Books, ages 9-11, 336 pages. Feisty 10-year-old Persimmony Smudge dreams of being heroic but to everyone else on the Island at the Center of Everything, she's just a poor, forgettable girl. Then one dark and stormy night, Persimmony strays from a path in the Willow Woods to chase her hat and is pulled into a fantastical adventure to save her island home and find her missing father. That night, after running after the hat, Persimmony discovers she's lost her way and starts to dance off her frustration in the pouring rain. While wildly twirling about, she falls into a willow tree, the home of poison-tongued tortoise, and is chased by the tortoise into the hollow of a log. While inside, Persimmony overhears two Leafeaters plotting to get back at the king for cutting down their woods. They will dig out the king's gold from under the mountain and hold it hostage until the king does what they say. The next day, after crawling out of the log, Persimmony meets a forlorn potato-faced man named Worvil and runs into an elderly potter friend Theodore, and together they agree that the king must be warned. But what's all this talk at the castle of a giant belt buckle being uncovered under the castle?

Rumor has it that their island mountain, Mount Majestic (which has risen and fallen once a day as longs as anyone can remember) is actually a sleeping giant covered with dirt. The king, an indulged, pepper-crazy 12-year-old, will hear nothing of it, but Persimmony is intrigued by the rumors and, after being dispatched to a cave, discovers the giant's enormous sleeping face. But how will she ever convince the island's inhabitants, the Leafeaters, Rumblebumps and especially King Lucas, that he's real? Unless she can get them to stop quarreling, the giant could wake up and cause the whole mountain to tumble down. Fantastic and fun, Trafton's debut is for anyone who loves to let their imagination run loose. (Recommended reading position: on your back with a toy building -- such as a Monopoly hotel -- balanced on your stomach.)

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