Escape the Mask: The Grassland Trilogy: Book One


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In Grassland the only hope of freedom is to go beyond the reach of sinister, silent masters, and the only family you know are your fellow captives. Coriko has never known a world beyond his cell and the fields where he toils all day. He does what he’s told and tries not to anger the Spears, the cruel, masked jailers who guard him and the other child slaves. If he gathers baskets ...

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Now in paperback!
In Grassland the only hope of freedom is to go beyond the reach of sinister, silent masters, and the only family you know are your fellow captives. Coriko has never known a world beyond his cell and the fields where he toils all day. He does what he’s told and tries not to anger the Spears, the cruel, masked jailers who guard him and the other child slaves. If he gathers baskets of shards and keeps quiet and orderly, then he can spend time with his cellmate and best friend, Pippa.
But without warning, the children’s orderly lives begin to change—slowly at first, with the arrival of a pair of siblings who speak Coriko and Pippa’s language. Soon after, violent events shake up the quiet world of Grassland, and Coriko must find the strength to grasp his freedom. Full of heartstopping action, Escape the Mask introduces Coriko, Pippa, and their friends—and begins the journey of The Grassland Trilogy.

Praise for Escape the Mask

“The quick pace immerses readers in an exotic locale . . . allows readers to experience the discovery . . .” —Kirkus Reviews
“Comparable in some ways to Golding’s Lord of the Flies . . . bursts with action . . . excellent descriptive writing allows the reader to visualize the action.” —VOYA, 4Q4P
 F&P level: X

F&P genre: F

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Danielle Williams
Coriko remembers little of his life before working the furrows and living with Pippa in the caves. As the Spears become distracted and allow the Diggers a bit more freedom than usual, he begins to remember more. It is only when the Outside appears that change truly comes, and Coriko and the rest of the Diggers experience a fear unlike any they have felt before. With the guidance of Pippa, Tia and Thief, the Diggers escape the caves and the Spears. Once in the outside world, they are confronted with more uncertainty and more painful memories of a time before they had been Diggers. Ward creates a world that is both eerily familiar and truly unfamiliar at the same time. Its abrupt conclusion leaves the reader anxious for the second volume. Ward's first volume in the "Grassland Trilogy" is an excellent introduction to the fantasy genre, as well as to multi-volume series. Reviewer: Danielle Williams
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

This fantasy depicts a society of child slaves working the fields collecting shards. Penned up like animals at night by their harsh masters, the "Spears," these youngsters have only distant memories of life before they were kidnapped from their villages. They are set free in the confusion of the war between the Spears and the "soldiers of the Outside" over the shards. They escape into a world only few of them remember or know how to exist in. Hiding from both the Spears and the Outsiders, they travel as far away as they can from their prison and see the horrors of war in the process. When the children reach the villages outside Grassland, they realize that the Spears may not be so different from them after all, despite their cruelty. This adds a surprising plot twist. The characters are slowly developed, and in the end readers are left with a better idea of what makes them behave as they do. The mood is sustained well throughout as a general sense of unease builds from the first chapter on. Readers know that something horrible is going to happen. This is an interesting book that could be a hit with slower readers, and a definite first purchase for most collections.-Jennifer-Lynn Draper, Children's Literature Consultant, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

Kirkus Reviews
In Book One of the Grasslands Trilogy, Coriko, a slave since he was young, understands little about the world outside. When newcomers share the torturous First Cleansing the Spears (jailers) use for punishment, Coriko helps them survive and gains a sturdy friendship. Using words that clearly have distinct meanings, Ward builds a world inhabited by slave Diggers who must bring in the quota of shards for the Spears each day. A note of uneasiness arises as the Spears make unusual changes in a place known for its unending routine and pattern. Unfolding events Outside threaten slaves as well as the ruling Spears, and using courage and quick thinking the children cope as their world unravels. The quick pace immerses readers in an exotic locale where slaves are divided between Onesies, Twosies, etc., where the threat of Separation looms with aging. The children's complete lack of understanding of their own world and how it connects to the outside allows readers to experience the discovery in parallel with the protagonists. A boundary-crossing import from Canada for fantasy fans. (Fiction. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810979901
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Series: Grassland Trilogy , #1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,489,706
  • Age range: 10 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

David Ward was born in Montreal, Quebec and grew up in the city of Vancouver beside the mountains and ocean. He was an elementary school teacher for eleven years before completing his Masters degree. David is currently a writer and university instructor in children's literature. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and three children.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2008

    Great science fiction

    Escape the Mask is edgy and gripping. Coriko and his cell-mate Pippa were captured as children and forced to live in dark caves by night and work in grass land fields by day. They do this under the watchfull eye of the Spears, who are silent, mean and controlling. One day new child slaves are added to the work force, and Coriko and Pippa notice changes in the Spears and begin to worry when their set routines are changing. The reader is expecting something dreadful is about to happen and it does. A cloud of arrows rain down on the children, killing or wounding many. Coriko and his small group of friends must escape or surely be killed. There is a little blood and a little kissing, but the book is still appropriate for 4th grade up. Elementary Librarian

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2009

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