written by Keiran Larwood
illustrated by David Wyatt
288 pages in hardback
Paperback out March 2017
Summary from Faber & Faber the publishers
A thick white blanket covers the wide slopes of the band of hills known as the Razorback Downs . . .
Podkin is the son of a warrior chieftain. He knows that one day it will be up to him to lead his warren and guard it in times of danger. But for now, he’s quite happy to laze around annoying his older sister Paz, and playing with his baby brother Pook. Then Podkin’s home is brutally attacked, and the young rabbits are forced to flee. The terrifying Gorm are on the rampage, and no one and nowhere is safe. With danger all around them, Podkin must protect his family, uncover his destiny, and attempt to defeat the most horrifying enemy rabbitkind has ever known.
Winner of the Best Story Blue Peter Book Award 2017
Fighting rabbits, ancient evil threatening the balance of nature and a good dollop of humour make Podkin One-Ear a pleasure to read. The way the countryside comes to life through adventure fits well with books like The Rising by Tom Moorhouse and of course, Watership Down by Richard Adams. However, it’s much easier to read than the 1972 classic – and with rather stronger female characters and a lot more fun.
The confident old-school telling of the story with a narrator gives warmth and reassurance ideal for younger readers or listeners. It would work well as a book to share with a group of children (not surprisingly since the author is a teacher). The artwork by David Wyatt beautifully underlines the epic nature of the tale – these are not cute fluffy bunnies.
Expect peril, magic, cunning and a few laughs amongst all the action. Pause to enjoy moments of loveliness – and shiver with horror on occasion. With family and nature at the heart of the tale, (a little like The Dark is Rising books by Susan Cooper) Podkin One-Ear will suit reasonably confident readers in primary school.
I’m happy to report there’s a sequel due out in October – if it’s as good, The Five Realms series could become a much-thumbed favourite on many shelves.