Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Readers meet 14-year-old Dakin who, at age 10, set herself three goals: to go to the farthest-away mountain, to see a gargoyle and to marry a prince. Ages 9-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Dakin hears the mountain of the colored snow calling her and she ventures forth from her parents and siblings to experience magic and wonder, goodness and evil. On her journey, she meets Croak, a 200-year-old frog trapped in a house with no doors; befriends three fierce gargoyles who guard the trail to the evil master's castle; escapes the talons of Graw, the winged monster; negotiates a path through the colored snow; and outwits the snow witch. In true fairy-tale manner, laughter turns away Drackamag, the dreaded ogre, and tears bring a brass troll to life and turn jagged spires to smooth stepping stones. She wipes out the evil of the mountain by pushing the witch into Lithy Pond, the gargoyles turn back into trolls, Drackamag becomes a small man, Graw turns into a parrot and the snow is now forever white. Her quest is not over for she must return the Ring of the King of Kings to the palace so the prince can marry. The ring is a belt on the brass troll's waist whom she takes to the King in hopes of marrying his son. The prince is dull and spoiled, however; but Dakin later meets Croak who has changed back to the kind, sensitive boy he was when the evil master took charge. He and Dakin marry as in a typical "they lived happily ever after" ending. Girls will especially like the fearless and dynamic female protagonist. 2004, Dell Yearling/Random House, Ages 8 to 10.
Janet L. Rose
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 3-7Lynne Reid Banks' lively, imaginative adventure (Doubleday, 1991) comes alive thanks to her splendid narration. Daikon, the main character, is a heroine of the '90s, even though she lives in a faraway time. At 14 she is independent, compassionate and courageous, and will not be deterred. She has three goals in lifeto visit the faraway mountain, to meet a gargoyle, and to marry a prince. She accomplishes the first two and, through the process, matures enough to realize that there are princes in all walks of life, not just in castles. Banks has created a lively cast of :characters, including trolls imprisoned as gargoyles, and an imaginative setting. The twists and turns of the plot keep listeners engaged throughout the story. Banks makes every character come alive, capturing the nuances of their natures, their pettiness, jealousy and fears through the voices she creates as well as the actions she relates. Her narration is fast-paced and convincing. This is a story that the entire family will enjoy.-Edith Ching, St. Albans School, Washington, DC
Read an Excerpt
One morning, very early, Dakin woke up sharply to find herself sitting up in bed.
“Somebody called me!” she thought. “I heard a voice in my sleep!”
She jumped up and ran to the open window in her long nightgown. Outside, the sun was just appearing beyond the farthest-away mountain, breathing orange fire onto the strange, patchwork snow and streaking the pale sky with morning cloud colors. It was still cold, and Dakin shivered as she called softly into the empty world:
“Did somebody want me?”
No one answered, and Dakin thought she must have dreamed it. But just as she was turning to jump back into bed again, she saw something that nearly made her fall out of the window.
The mountain nodded.
At least, that’s what it looked like. As the sun almost burst over the top, the black head of the mountain seemed to dip, as if to say, “Yes, somebody wants you.”
Dakin stared and stared, forgetting the cold, until the sun was completely clear of the peak and stood out by itself, round and red and dazzling. Nothing else happened, but all the same, Dakin knew. It was time to start.
Moving quickly and quietly, she put on her warmest dress with three red petticoats under it, her stout climbing boots that laced with colored lacings up past her ankles, and the white apron she always wore. She hadn’t time to plait her hair, so she pushed it out of the way under her long white stocking cap. Then she tiptoed downstairs.
It was difficult to be quiet because of the boots, which she should have left till later. Her mother called from herbedroom:
“Dakin, is that you?”
“Yes, Mother,” said Dakin, wondering how she would explain her going-out clothes if her mother saw her.
“Put on the water for the porridge, little one,” called her mother sleepily.
Dakin almost changed her mind about going that moment. She wanted to run into her parents’ room and curl up under the big feather quilt, hugging her mother’s feet as she used to when she was little. It would be so safe and happy to put the water on the big black stove for the porridge, and later to eat it with coffee and wheaty bread with Mother and Father and Triska, and feed the hens and do the washing and go on all day as if the farthest-away mountain had never called her.
For a moment she paused on the stairs. Then she thought, “No. I must do what I’ve said I’ll do.”
So she went on downstairs, and pumped the water very quickly, and put it on to heat. Then she hastily filled her knapsack with the things she thought she’d need—a chunk of bread and another of cheese, a slab of her mother’s toffee, a mug and a knife, a candle and some matches. Then she looked around. On the window ledge was a book of poems her father had brought back for her from the city, and she put that in.
Then, as an afterthought, she lifted off the mantelpiece the little brass figure of a troll that her father had found years and years ago on the very edge of the pinewood. She held the little man in her hand and looked at his impish, bearded face under the pointed hat.
“I shouldn’t take you really,” she whispered. “You’re brass and you’re heavy.”
But nonetheless she slipped him into her knapsack and felt him slide between the loaf and the book and lie at the bottom. And she didn’t feel so lonely suddenly.
Now she could definitely hear sounds of movement from above, and she knew that soon they’d be down. So she pulled her warm brown cloak down from the hook behind the back door and wrapped it around her; then she put all her weight on the heavy latch, and the next moment she was out in the bright morning, running, running toward the farthest-away mountain with her white stocking cap flying out behind her and her knapsack bumping.
First she had to go through the village, or rather across a corner of it. People she knew were just opening up their shutters and putting their bolsters and sheets on the upstairs window ledges to air.
“Good morning, Dakin!” they cried as she passed. “Where are you off to in such a hurry?”
“I’m going to the farthest-away mountain,” she called back over her shoulder. But they all thought she was joking, and laughed, and let her go.