Juniper

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Overview

Though Juniper enjoys the easy life of a medieval princess, she chooses to learn about herbs, healing, and the magic within nature from her strange and difficult godmother. As her training comes to an end, Juniper discovers that her power-hungry aunt is using black magic to seize the throne. Juniper must use her as-yet-untested powers to stop her—before the kingdom is destroyed!

While apprenticed to the witch woman Juniper, a young girl struggles to save her family ...

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Overview

Though Juniper enjoys the easy life of a medieval princess, she chooses to learn about herbs, healing, and the magic within nature from her strange and difficult godmother. As her training comes to an end, Juniper discovers that her power-hungry aunt is using black magic to seize the throne. Juniper must use her as-yet-untested powers to stop her—before the kingdom is destroyed!

While apprenticed to the witch woman Juniper, a young girl struggles to save her family from the evil machinations of her power-hungry aunt Meroot. Prequel to "Wise Child."

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Juniper is the secret name of Ninnoc, princess of Cornwall. She was given this name that tells who she really is by her godmother, Euny. As the story begins, Ninnoc is a sweetly spoiled princess with a servant to bathe and dress her. After Euny visits, Ninnoc realizes that there may be more to life than luxury. She goes to live with Euny where life is simple and austere. At first it seems there is nothing but hard, tedious work, but she is learning those things that will be important to her. Juniper makes the challenging and difficult journey from being a pampered princess to becoming a wise healer who must try to save her parents' kingdom from the evil sorceress, Meroot. The book is a prequel to Furlong's wonderful Wise Child. As in all good series, this book can be read alone, but the reader surely will want to know more about this strong heroine and her equally interesting friends. This is an IRA Young Adults' Choice and an NCTE Notable Children's Book in Language Arts. 2004, Random House, and Ages 9 to 16.
—Janet Crane Barley
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-- A rich, deeply colored novel of a young girl's coming of age. Ninnoc is the indulged only child of King Mark of Cornwall as Christianity is beginning to overcome the ancient Celtic religion of the Mother Goddess. She has abilities as a healer and the ambition to rule her father's small kingdom. She is sent to her unusual and unappealing godmother, who teaches her to become a doran , a sort of wise woman or white witch. Euny is no fairy godmother--her lessons are hard, slow, and obscure. Ninnoc returns home to find her father's kingdom under her evil aunt Meroot's enchantment. She then realizes that she must use her new powers to save both herself and her cousin Gamal, the gentle musician whom Meroot is forcing to become a warrior knight. Furlong's story, the prequel to Wise Child Knopf, 1987, is neatly constructed, with several interesting parallels embellishing the story line. Background details are vivid and smoothly incorporated. The feminist perspective is clear but not obtrusive; characters of both sexes are well drawn and balanced as to appeal and interest. The pace is sure and steady with light touches of humor. The action is quite believable given the beliefs of the time, and our own growing knowledge of psychology, herbalism, and pre-Christian religions. Historical fantasy of the calibre of Bradley's Mists of Avalon Knopf, 1982, and just as satisfying. --Barbara Hutcheson, Greater Victoria Public Library, B.C., Canada
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679833697
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/1992
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 198
  • Age range: 11 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 640L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.13 (w) x 6.82 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

Known in her homeland of England in many roles—journalist, biographer, novelist, feminist, and activist—Monica Furlong was best known in the United States for her award-winning novels, Juniper and Wise Child. Monica Furlong died of cancer in January 2003 at the age of 72. Colman is her last work.
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Read an Excerpt

1



THE NIGHT I was born, according to my nurse, Erith, was a night of black frost and dense darkness in a bitter January. White owls who lived in some nearby trees never stopped hooting and flying around the palace, or so the story goes. No one slept a wink. Erith thought it was a sign that I was a remarkable child, and by the time I was old enough to hear the story, I liked to believe her. Remarkable or not, I was bathed and oiled and bandaged, as all babies are, and then they dressed me in a little shift and wrapped me in a rabbit skin to keep me warm. My mother and father showed their first baby to the ealdors, the elder statesmen, as was the custom, and then Erith cuddled me all night so that, as she said, I would not feel strange in this new country I had come to.

In my earliest memory I was toddling around on the big grassy enclosure at the center of the palace. Many grownups were walking about, men mostly, holding strange forked twigs in their hands. They moved slowly, eyes fixed on the ground, and they did not notice me or talk to me as they usually did. Because I was bored and wanted to copy them, I picked up a forked twig that someone had dropped and began to move toward the middle of the grass. Suddenly I screamed and screamed, so wildly and in such terror that everyone stopped and looked at me. What had happened was that the twig in my hand had turned into a snake. Well, it hadn't really. It was just an old twig, but while I had held it, all of a sudden it had started moving and wriggling in the most horrible way. My father came over to me.

"What happened?" he asked.

"It turned into a snake," I said, knowing that theywould all laugh at me because there it was, just being a stick.

“It’s all right," he said. "It wasn't really a snake. Would you do it again to show us?"

So rather nervously, but wanting to please, I picked up the twig again by its two handles, and almost at once it began to jerk downward as if it had a life of its own, and once again I dropped it with a yell. I thought my father would be cross with me, but he picked me up in his arms with a laugh.

"Well done, little girl. You've found us another supply of water. We thought there was one here somewhere, but no one could ever find it."

I suppose I should mention that my father was regulus, that is, a small chieftain or king, in Cornwall, and we lived at Castle Dore in the Wooden Palace that he had built on a high grassy place—the site of an ancient fort. There was a house around a courtyard where my mother and father and I lived, a house for the astrologers and another for the bards, an armory, a bakery, quarters for the knights and ealdors, and a big hall where my father dined with them every evening. The house stood in the hills with a long view of farms and other hills, and the air sparkled with that special radiance of Cornish light.

My mother, Erlain, was a tall, graceful woman who was very clever. She could read and write and had learned mathematics and poetry. She could sing beautifully to the harp, and it was she, I heard tell, who brought the bards to our house and with them a very different atmosphere from the days when my father had lived alone with his knights. She taught him to read and write, and gradually, warrior though he was, he began to enjoy learning as much as she did. Later on, as a result, he wanted me to have the sort of good education that girls often do not have even now.

I should tell you that whenever a child was born to a knight or ealdor among my people, the astrologers studied the heavens and its charts to work out the portents for the child's life. Then they wrote some words, almost a sort of poem, to help the child remember the main points, and this was inscribed in tiny writing on parchment and put into a little horn case that was worn on a leather thong around the neck. Later on, when I was older and had learned to read, I liked to take the parchment out and read the words through, just to remind myself. They went like this:

Named for the strong and twisting tree
Of medicine, when she finds the way
By earth, air, water, fire
Then will she mend what is broken.
The dark teacher will correct her,
The fair one will protect her,
The strong man will love her,
And all may be well.

It didn’t make much sense to me because after all, I was not named after a tree but was called by the good Cornish name of Ninnoc. The rest of the words seemed just as puzzling.

Other early memories are of a huge chamber at the Wooden Palace with a fire leaping and flickering in the hearth. I had a big bed and Erith had a little one in the corner, but because I felt lonely in my big bed I often jumped out of it and climbed in with Erith. Erith was young and pretty, with red hair and lots of freckles. I used to count them to tease her. Sometimes I woke her to make her tell me a story or sing me one of her Irish songs. I was quite bossy with Erith—I behaved like a little princess who expects the servants to do as she tells them—refusing to get dressed or have a bath or eat my dinner or whatever it was she had to get me to do. Once or twice she threatened to tell my father about my bad behavior, but she never did.

Sometimes my father would appear in my rooms in the evening, just at the time I should have been going to bed, and tell Erith to dress me in my prettiest gown. (I had some beautiful clothes made from pieces of gold and silver material like liquid flame left over from my mother's gowns. I was very proud of myself in them.) I had earrings and bracelets made of silver or set with gems, and on special occasions Erith hung jewels in my long black hair. Erith would put my little squirrel-skin slippers on me and comb my hair, and then I would walk with my father in the procession to the Great Hall. He would sit me on his lap and feed me tidbits from his plate. After dinner I would be passed around on the knees of the knights and they all would tease me and play with me. Once or twice I stood on the table and sang one of the songs my mother or Erith had taught me.

I enjoyed being spoiled, but I was disappointed that my mother did not have another baby who could have been a playmate for me. Only much later did I realize that my parents also wanted more children. But soon I acquired a new playmate whom I will tell you about later, and also Erith let me play with the children of some of the knights and ealdors. We played marvelous games. The old fort on which the palace had been built was surrounded by enormous ditches and ramparts constructed in a maze to make it hard for enemies to find the way in. We raced one another around the ditches, slid down the ramparts on wooden sleds, learned the mazes by heart, and had wonderful games of hide-and-seek there.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Reading Group Guide

Though Juniper enjoys the easy life of a medieval princess, she chooses to learn about herbs, healing, and the magic within nature from her strange and difficult godmother. As her training comes to an end, Juniper discovers that her power-hungry aunt is using black magic to seize the throne. Juniper must use her as-yet-untested powers to stop her—before the kingdom is destroyed!

1. Juniper is a prequel to Wise Child. How does the prequel help to better define Juniper as a person? Discuss what shaped her views regarding women. Contrast her relationship with Euny to her relationship with Wise Child.

2. It is the custom in Cornwall for the astrologers to study the heavens and work out the portents for a child's life at birth. Read the words of the astrologers on page 6. How does the story of Juniper's birth foreshadow her life as a doran? Discuss how her parents know that she is special. Why is Euny the appropriate godmother for her?

3. Dreams are important in the story. Juniper asks an astrologer for an interpretation of her dreams. Discuss why he is unwilling to consider her dream. How does a dream help Juniper know that it is time to go to Euny?

4. Juniper is an intelligent girl with knowledge of Latin, the stars, and mathematics. Euny discounts this type of knowledge and tells Juniper, "That sort just gets in the way–makes you think you are clever, like weapons make men think they are strong. My sort of power is about seeing–seeing into the future, seeing into someone's heart and mind." (p. 43) Discuss Euny's techniques for teaching Juniper about matters of the heart. How does this education later serve her when she returns homeand encounters Aunt Meroot? How does the education she receives from Euny help her cope with the jealousy she feels at the birth of her little brother?

5. Discuss what Euny means when she tells Juniper, "You came here to make your life real." (p. 59) What is it about hardships that makes a person's life real? Juniper suffers from loneliness while living with Euny. How does her loneliness help her develop strength? At one point, Juniper's mother offers to take her home. Why does Juniper decide to stay?

6. Discuss Juniper's relationship with Gamal. How is their relationship similar to that of Wise Child and Colman? How does Juniper help Gamal develop courage?

7. After Juniper returns home and finds Castle Dore under Meroot's curse, she returns to Euny. Discuss what Juniper expects to find out on this visit. How does Euny know that it is time for Juniper to fly? Discuss what Juniper learns on her flight.

8. Juniper can never rule the kingdom because she is a girl, but she does strive to protect Castle Dore for her brother. Discuss how there are more ways to rule a kingdom than simply wearing the crown. How might Juniper's powers be considered "ruling powers"?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2007

    thee best

    dis is book has drama. i luv dis book. the only think dat i wanted was sum romance like juniper and gamal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2006

    JUNIPER

    I just LOVE this book. Romance, integrity, suspense, and adventure all tie in to this wonderful book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2006

    Better than WISE CHILD

    I read this book ages ago...I read it before WISE CHILD and I must say that I like it a lot more. It's so entertaining, I don't know how anyone could be bored with it. I love Juniper, she's one of the greates characters I've ever read about (following Scarlett O'Hara, Samwise Gamgee, and Alanna the Lioness). Read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2003

    Greenway Student

    This book kept my attention for along time and I recomend it to children that can read dificult words.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2003

    An awesome book!

    I think Juniper is even better then Wise Child! It's about a princess named Juniper who goes to live with her godmother and learns the ways of a doran (a white witch). She ends up saving her kingdom from the evil sorceress Meroot. A wonderful fantasy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2002

    Change of Heart

    Juniper is a interesting book. i had a hard time putting it down. Juniper goes from a princess spoiled and snobby to becoming one that battles for others and not herself. I describes her feelings and emotions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2002

    Read This!

    This book was really fun to read. It had its share of boring part but most books do. Give this book a try because it is a great story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2002

    GREATEST BOOK I'VE READ!

    When I first read this book I was 8 years old and my sister got it for her birthday. She wasn't much into this type of book (kind of journal like). Anyway, I loved this book and I still read it like 5 times a year and at the age of 15 I still am surprised when Meroot tries to kill Juniper.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2002

    Outstanding...

    A wonderful book about a young girl, not only helping others, but ultimatly finding herself on her journey. i highly recommend it for any one who loves fantasy or magic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2002

    I was bord

    When I started reading the book, I thought that I was going to be reading something exciting and thrilling. Instead I read something lacking fun. The book's mood was unjoyous. I would only recommend this people who like things depressing and unadventurous.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2001

    A lovely book

    When I first took the book home I just couldn't put it down. It has defenitly become one of my favourites. And so I really think that it's worth your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2001

    An over powering Influence

    I've loved this book since the first time I lifted the cover to the moment I placed it down. It was very beautiful. It reminds me of my heritage and my ancestory. I come form a long line of witches and this story seems to bring it to life, which isn't something I can say about many good witch stories, but if you believe in magic and the inspiring power of nature and love for one another you will certianly find this book an exhilarating read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2001

    A wonderful book

    I have read this book from end to end and I loved every minute of it. I have searched for this book for a long time because the only place that ever had it was my junior high school. I will always love this book because of the triumphs of a little girl who never quit.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2000

    One of the great works of fantasy!

    This book will lead you into the world of dorans, sorcerers, and magic. Monica Furlong's illustrative writing creates a beautiful picture of this world and its inhabitants. Euny, Ninnoc/Juniper, and all the characters are well portrayed, each having realistic actions and reactions. I highly recommend this book. Personally, I am anxiously awaiting the purchase of the sequel, Wise Child. You will want to read this book many times through!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2000

    Really enjoyable; a great book!

    This is an excellent prequel to Monica Furlong's previous novel, Wise Child. It has the same creation of interesting characters, the introduction of familiar characters in a new light, and a good plot that keeps the reader interested right until the end. Highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2000

    A Great Book Full of Magic and Triumph

    Juniper is a great person to see this whole story from. The characters are excellent, the plot engaging and exciting, and the struggle of good VS evil is on every page. A great book to read and learn from. It inspires hope and diversity. I'm 15 years old and I'm still reading it! I love reading about the spells and the healing wisdom. Truly wonderful!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2000

    the magic world of the unreality

    this book is a great book. I am sixteen now and I still fully apreciate this book. this book opens a door to a world that was long forgotton to me because of the amount of growing up that I have done. I have allways liked fantasy's about good witches and life. I have found that in order to stay innocent a child needs to read these book. with these books a child can go out of there real world. I think juniper does this nicely. no matter what your age juniper is a book that opens a long forgotten world that can creat happiness in a life of uncertainty and doubt. Juniper helps for me to fell like my worldly problems are just in my mind. this book brings peace to a state of mind and creats a world were I can go and be the innocent child that was lost by hard times. I grew up way to early and when I read this book it was like I found the child within me that had been shoved down by the passing of time. I love this book and I recomend it to anyone from a child to a one hundred and fifty year old man. It will help you find the magic child in you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 1999

    Outstanding Prequel

    This book is a wonderful read! It has lots of twists and turns to the characters and plot.With a medieval style and magic it is an exciting tale.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews

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