My husband and I called work assignments back and forth as we unloaded the minivan after church. “You get the baby, I’ll get lunch,” “I’ve got the bag!”—that sort of thing. I was halfway up the front steps when I saw the box.
“Never mind!” I called. “No lunch today! I’ve got books!”
We did eat lunch that day—I even made it—but while we ate cold leftovers in rumpled church clothes, I unpacked the box at the table. My family watched the proceedings with varying degrees of interest. How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, Caught Up in a Story—boring Mom stuff (clearly influenced by a recent Read Aloud Revival binge). Treasuring Christ With Your Hands Full—again, Mom only. But then:
“Oh, what is that book about?” Only the baby remained uninterested—everyone else huddled around me to study the cover of The Green Ember. My husband murmured reverently, “It’s beautiful.”
I dropped everything else from my reading list and started The Green Ember that afternoon. Written by S. D. Smith of Story Warren, The Green Ember tells the tale of Heather and Picket, two rabbits set adrift in a corrupted wood by the loss of their home and family.
Someone somewhere (where was that quote?) called this “a new story with an old soul,” and I can see why: in the tradition of classics like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Princess and the Goblin, Smith uses fantastic elements to tell a story that is lively and engaging but that courses with good, old-fashioned virtue. Though the story has allegorical moments, it is not a strict allegory, and in that way Smith presents a beautiful picture of a community living in the hope of restoration, looking forward to the day when harms will be mended and the world made right.
A word of warning, though: the opening chapters are intense. If your family is up for that, awesome! Proceed. But if your kids are anything like mine, you might hold off on this one for a few years lest they have nightmares. Those opening chapters gathered steam slowly for me—I wanted to know more of the story earlier in the book—but once the train left the station, the ride was wonderful. And by the end?
No spoilers. But the book rocketed to the top of my favorites. May that be endorsement enough.
The Green Ember
S. D. Smith, Zach Franzen (2014)
Good news! You can also pre-order a copy of the prequel, The Black Star of Kingston!