Tuesday, January 17, 2012


NeversinkTitle: Neversink
Author: Barry Wolverton
Illustrator: Sam Nielson
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Novel
Goodread's Summary: Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, whose jagged cliffs and ice-gouged rocks are home to a colony of odd-looking seabirds called auks, including one Lockley J. Puffin. With their oceanfront views and plentiful supply of fish, the auks have few concerns - few, save for Lockley's two best friends, Egbert and Ruby, a know-it-all walrus and a sharp-tongued hummingbird. 

But all of this is about to change. Rozbell, the newly crowned king of Owl Parliament, is dealing with a famine on the mainland of Tytonia - and he has long had his scheming eyes on the small colony to the north. Now, Neversink's independence hangs in the balance. An insurgence of owls will inevitably destroy life as the auks know it - unless Lockley can do something about it. (Taken from Goodreads 12/28/11)

What Jen Thinks: I was really excited to read this book until I started reading it and realized I wasn't sure I liked reading books with all animals characters. I had memories of the Rats of Nimh and Redwall washing over me. I don't think I finished either of those books. I was also reminded of Guardians of Ga'Hoole and I did finish that one...but it wasn't easy. I watch movies with my kids with all-animal characters but for some reason I'm not a huge fan of books in this same way. 

Here's the best part of my story - I stuck with this book and loved it in the end. I tried to read it back in November or December but I had to take a break. I told Kellee that I needed some help, some kind of scaffolding to help me get into the book. She said to try and just think of the characters as people. That's what I tried and I just kept reading. I have noticed that I'm not the best at visualizing books. I've definitely developed this skill more since I have been reading more and more in the last five years but I don't see every detail in my mind. I feel like that impacted my reading of this book. It was hard for me to imagine exactly what Neversink was like. 

As I read, it became much easier to visualize and understand the characters in the story. By the end I was rushing to find out what would happen to Lockley and Lucy and all the birds in Neversink. My favorite part of this story is the emphasis on telling stories and knowing stories from our past. In a sense, that part reminded me of The Giver. We need to know our history to make a better future for ourselves. I love this message. 
What Kellee Thinks: Neversink is reminiscent of Animal Farm and Redwall but by the sea. With puffins! 
Lockley J. Puffin is not your average hero.  He is a good husband, a good friend, but he is not extraordinary anything.  However, he shows that you cannot judge a puffin by its daily behavior because when trouble comes to Neversink, Lockley is just the bird that they need. 

I found this book to be a classic hero's journey, just with auks and owls (with a walrus or two and a hummingbird thrown in).  Lockley goes through many of the Campbell stages from refusing to become part of the conflict to being aided by supernatural elements and guides.  He becomes the hero of Neversink. 

Another fascinating aspect of this story were the myth and world building. Wolverton built a world (complete with a map at the beginning of the book) where the animals played true characters and they even had their own government, history and myths.  But Wolverton did all this while still being true to the animals in his story. The book even begins with a guide to the different types of auks and owls so that the reader is knowledgeable about the animals in the book.  He did a good job at mixing the facts behind the animals into his fantasy novel. 

But what really made this story was the humor.  The dynamics between Egbert the walrus, Ruby the hummingbird, and Lockley the puffin are quite a trio, specifically the say Ruby picks on Egbert.  

"And in that moment of distraction, it crashed.  Right into Egbert to be precise. There was a sound like a cannon-ball hitting mashed potatoes as the flying object collided with a mound of walrus flesh, bounced to the ground, and rolled to a lumpy stop.
'Lockley! Good heavens!' said Egbert. 'Are you okay?'
Lockley sat up, dazed. He shook his head from side to side until the giant walrus and tiny hummingbird came into focus.
'I think you bruised one of my ribs!' said Egbert, rubbing his side.
'There are bones under there?' said Ruby.
Lockley wobbled to his feet. 'Terribly sorry, Egbert.  I didn't see you there.' 
'You're kidding right?' said Ruby" (p. 11)
Read Together: Grades 3 - 6
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 7
Read With: Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham, Redwall by Brian Jacques, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, Seekers series by Erin Hunter
Middle Grade Companion for- Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Snatch of Text: 
"The sea, the sea!
That's what he wanted.  The sea was where he belonged.  Those funny shapes and awkward moving parts that made puffins so comical on land revealed their harmonious purpose underwater.  Below the surface, their short powerful wings and broad webbed feet propelled their torpedo-shaped bodies deep into the ocean's twilight zone, and their oversized bills allowed them to capture dozens of fish per dize.  Survival challenges that would cripple an eagle were elegantly and skillfully met by the humble puffin. If only we never had to return to land, Lockley often thought, our self-esteen would be much higher." (p. 140)

Egbert: "Although I did have the strangest dream.  I was walking along a beach with a carpenter, and dozens and dozens of happy oysters followed us, and then we ate them all." (p. 259)
Mentor Text for: Myth Building, Setting, Descriptive Language, Making Predictions, Hero's Journey, Humor
Writing Prompts: Have you ever had to stand up to a bully?; Would you stand up for your friends if they were being bullied? Write about a time in your life when you said something hurtful that you didn't really mean. How did you repair the relationship - or was you relationship never the same?
Topics Covered: Tyranny, Friendship, Choices, Bravery, Family, Loyalty, Determination

**ARCs received from Kellie at Walden Pond Press- thank you !**
Also check out the Neversink Interview with Barry Wolverton HERE

Kellee *hearts* It:
Jen *hearts* It:

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