Children of the Dawnland

Children of the Dawnland

3.8 11
by Kathleen O'Neal Gear, W. Michael Gear

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The end of the Ice Age: A time of melting glaciers, mass extinctions, unpredictable dangers…and young heroes

Though only twelve summers old, Twig is a talented Dreamer. Sometimes she has spirit dreams—dreams that come true. But her mother has always discouraged Twig from exploring her powers for fear that they would turn her strange, like the

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The end of the Ice Age: A time of melting glaciers, mass extinctions, unpredictable dangers…and young heroes

Though only twelve summers old, Twig is a talented Dreamer. Sometimes she has spirit dreams—dreams that come true. But her mother has always discouraged Twig from exploring her powers for fear that they would turn her strange, like the reclusive witch-woman Cobia.

When Twig begins to have recurring nightmares about a green light exploding from the sky and causing widespread destruction, she must find the courage to defy her mother and learn to become a Spirit Dreamer. Helping Twig on her quest are her best friend, Greyhawk, and Screech Owl, a shaman who has been banished from the village. Together, they must persuade their people to leave the land of their ancestors and journey to the mysterious Duskland, far from only home they’ve ever known. Can Twig convince the Elders that she is a true Spirit Dreamer—before it’s too late?

Set 13,000 years ago in what is now the northeastern United States and Ontario, Canada, Children of the Dawnland is an unforgettable adventure about a visionary girl by internationally-bestselling authors and archaeologists Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear. In writing and researching this book, the Gears visited the archaeological sites in New York, Ontario, Ohio, and Pennsylvania that play a role in the story. By allowing us to see through the eyes of prehistoric cultures, the Gears hope we can learn from them at a time of similar environmental change.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—The Gears, known for their adult titles, have utilized their archaeological knowledge to write their first book for children. This story imagines what life might have been like for the Clovis people who lived in what is now the northeastern United States and eastern Canada at the end of the Ice Age. Twig is the daughter of the village dreamer, a shamanlike person whose visions are used as a means to guide the tribe. She has been having visions that tell of a great ball of fire in the sky, and is convinced that her people must move west to avoid annihilation. Twig's mother, out of fear for her, has tried to keep her from exploring her visions, but the 12-year-old feels compelled to train as a dreamer in order to save her people. Initially it might be challenging for today's youth to wade through the anthropomorphized names given to natural phenomena such as Wind Woman, Moon Maiden, and Star People; the heavy emphasis on the power given to dreams and visions; and the slow story line for the first half of the book. However, the plot soon quickens. Twig and her friend Greyhawk set off on a quest to find Cobia, a dreamer with extraordinary power, and are chased by the violent and murderous Thornback Raiders. The world really does seem to be close to destruction when Twig's vision comes true. Even the most selective children won't be able to read fast enough at this point, if they get this far.—Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Twig is afraid of her emerging talents as a Dreamer, but if she wants to protect her people, she must learn to control her power. Her whole village is under threat from the terrible Thornback raiders, who rampage through the land killing and enslaving everyone they meet. Twig's dreams, however, point to a far more terrible danger: a hideous light in the sky. With the help of an ostracized shaman and her best friend, Twig begins a dangerous journey to save her people. Twig's story is set during a controversial new archaeological theory's hypothesized comet explosion over North America. The proposed comet is held responsible for destroying the Paleoamerican Clovis culture, the culture in which the Gears have placed Twig. Readers hoping to learn how the Clovis people ate, built and lived will be disappointed, but those looking for an exciting fantasy novel will be pleased by the unusual setting, the well-paced action and the individual lens on culture change at a massive scale. A little bit of Paleolithic speculation wrapped around a spiritual coming-of-age. (Fantasy. 9-11)
From the Publisher

A Fall 2009 Kid's Indie Next List "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"

A fast paced adventure set at the end of the Ice Age. The authors skillfully build a world and its culture while spinning an exciting tale.... This character driven fantasy will appeal to fans of epic series such as Erin Hunter's Warriors and Brian Jacques' Redwall.

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Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.82(w) x 8.56(h) x 1.12(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Children of the Dawnland


A DEEP, AGONIZING GROAN trembled the air, and Old Mother tern tipped her wings to dive closer to the Ice Giants. Below her, glaciers stretched for as far as she could see. In places, the ice had broken and cracked, forming great dark canyons where she could see no bottom. In other places, massive blocks of blue ice resembling jagged mountain ranges thrust up so high they raked the bellies of the Cloud People.

Another groan erupted, followed by softer whimpers, and she tilted her white wings and headed south.

Old Mother's flock regularly flew great distances. She had seen much of the world in her forty summers, andknew something was changing. The air and oceans were growing warmer. Flowers were blooming earlier in the spring, and the short-faced bears were waking up from their winter slumbers earlier. Even more disturbing, in just her lifetime the size of the meltwater lake to the south of the glaciers—where her flock nested—had almost doubled. Once, she had tried to find the far western shore of the lake. She'd flown for twenty days straight, and never found it. The lake seemed to go on forever. Every summer, the water rose and forced her people to build their nests farther and farther south.

Unfortunately, that had not stopped the humans from hunting them.

That was her mission today. She was scouting for human hunters.

She flapped her wings harder and flew out over the vast blue lake. Icebergs the size of small mountains floated in the water, bobbing and twisting, and far to the south, she saw the smoke from the human campfires. It rose into the cold air and created a gray smear over the treeless tundra. Old Mother tilted her tail and angled down toward the village.

The humans made strange nests. She had watched them erect the wooden pole frames and cover them with mammoth or buffalo hides, and wondered how such nests could ever be safe for their children. When a fox attacked a tern nest, the fledglings could leap up and run in less than a heartbeat. Human children, on the other hand, could be cornered in their hide nests and slaughtered. Shehad seen that happen, for all was not well in the world of humans. They seemed to be constantly at war with one another, and they—

Old Mother's eyes widened. Far below her, she saw a line of children walking toward the lakeshore, in the direction of her flock's nesting area.

Her heart raced. She soared down for a closer look. Each child carried a hide bag. In terror, she let out a high-pitched squeal to warn the rest of the flock, and dove straight for the last child in line—a boy with a dog trotting at his side.

Copyright © 2009 by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear Reader's guide copyright © 2009 by Tor Books

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