Kenneth Oppel is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwing trilogy has sold over a million copies worldwide and been adapted as an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn won a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award and the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller and was named Children's Novel of the Year by the London Times. He is also the author of Half Brother, This Dark Endeavor, Such Wicked Intent, and The Boundless. Born on Canada's Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Canada; in England and Ireland; and now resides in Toronto with his wife and children. Visit him at KennethOppel.ca.
Oppel (Dead Water Zone) turns to animal fantasy with this mostly absorbing adventure story about a bat named Shade, the runt of the Silverwing colony. Although Shade is small for his age, he is curious and a bit obsessive, in some ways a Jonathan Livingston Seagull of the bat community. He longs to see the sun, strictly forbidden to the bats by the other animals; he even wishes to bring sunlight to his colony, as "the greatest gift of all." His obsession, he learns later, was shared by his missing father, who thought Humans would help bats return to the daylight. His actions cause their bitter enemies, the owls, to burn his colony's nesting site just before the bats migrate south. Shade is separated from the others during a storm, and the bulk of the narrative chronicles his attempts to rejoin them. Along the way, he meets and befriends Marina, a bat of another species, driven out by fear of the band that Humans have placed on her wing. Together they escape a squad of pigeons, marauding owls and carnivorous bats seeking to return south to the jungle, among other hazards. This epic journey is gripping, and details of bat life are inventively and convincingly imagined, though Shade's (and other bats') quasi-religious yearnings and struggles over tolerance, intellectual freedom and other abstractions get a little too much emphasis. As in Watership Down and other examples of this genre, the animals provide a conduit for their creator's social concerns. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)
Gr 4-6‘The plot of this book sounds like the perfect adventure for a noble hero: a dangerous journey with a cryptic map and a trusty companion. But here's the catch: the hero is an undersized bat. Shade, a newborn Silverwing, is separated from his colony during their winter migrations. With the help of an exiled Brightwing, he must find his colony and save them from marauding cannibal bats imported from the tropics. In an author's note, Oppel writes that he "liked the challenge of taking animals that many might consider `ugly' or `scary' and fashioning them into interesting, appealing characters"; he has done just that with Shade and his comrades. While these characters are not particularly well rounded, readers will sympathize with the young bat's sometimes foolhardy efforts to prove that he's more than the colony runt, and the villains‘fire-carrying owls and six-foot, flesh-eating bats‘will keep even reluctant readers engaged. However, the greatest strengths of this story lie in its fast-paced, cliff-hanging action and its setting within the hollow trees and bell towers of the bats' monochromatic nighttime world. Recommend this one to fans of Avi's Poppy (Orchard, 1995); they won't be disappointed.‘Beth Wright, Edythe Dyer Community Library, Hampden, ME
"A tour-de-force fantasy; a can't-put-down adventure for readers
from age eight all the way to adult."-- "Smithsonian"
"An absorbing adventure story...gripping."-- "Publishers Weekly"
"Do not miss this rip-roaring adventure by a very talented young writer."-- "VOYA"
"Readers with a penchant for losing themselves in fantasy worlds will revel in Kenneth Oppel's Silverwing . . . A richly imagined work."-- "The Globe and Mail"
"Replete with appealing characters, scary adversaries, bat lore, natural history, unanswered questions, and conflicting theologies, the story takes on a promising sweep...."-- "Kirkus"
"The perfect adventure for a noble hero...."-- "School Library Journal"