RAGTAG

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Overview

Warring birds battle over the city of Boston in an action-packed fantasy.

In this engrossing story for older middle-graders, hundreds of birds of prey have been driven out of the Berkshires by encroaching human development. They head toward Boston, which is already occupied by the birds of the city—but that won’t stop the raptors. Soon the Talon Empire and the Feathered Alliance are at war, and as the battle ensues, an unlikely hero emerges to ...

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Ragtag

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Overview

Warring birds battle over the city of Boston in an action-packed fantasy.

In this engrossing story for older middle-graders, hundreds of birds of prey have been driven out of the Berkshires by encroaching human development. They head toward Boston, which is already occupied by the birds of the city—but that won’t stop the raptors. Soon the Talon Empire and the Feathered Alliance are at war, and as the battle ensues, an unlikely hero emerges to defend his home: a young swallow named Ragtag.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The story line moves quickly, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. The qualities of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice are themes explored as Ragtag and his friends battle for their lives and homes. An enjoyable read that could easily become a series.”—School Library Journal

“City-lovers will thrill when birds fly into the Boston Public Library and the Old South Church, hide at the Public Garden’s swan pond and catch an ear-splitting ride on the undercarriage of a subway train. For bird, battle and Boston enthusiasts.”—Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Cynthia Levinson
"‘I'm such a loser,' he thought. ‘I don't even have the courage to run away.'" It is hard to imagine a bleaker self-assessment—or one so universal that almost any young reader could identify with it. Yet, the speaker, the eponymous Ragtag, is not a young adult. He is not even a person. He is a swallow. When publishers say they are looking for a fresh voice, a new perspective on a classic adventure story, this is what they are seeking. Narrated by Ragtag, other stalwart but fearful members of the Feathered Alliance, and their enemy, the murderous birds-of-prey members of the Talon Empire, this story literally introduces new voices. Set high above Copley Square and the Old South Church in downtown Boston, it offers dizzying new perspectives. At the same time, the suspenseful tale adheres to the classic hero's journey. In this case, the apparently hapless Ragtag, the Alliance's wise owl leader, darting sparrows, and ever-cowardly pigeons, are forced to confront the Empire's merciless kestrels, hawks, and herons for control of the airspace over the city. Characters are distinct. Each species and each bird within each species speaks with a recognizable personality. Duplicity and revolving allegiances complicate the plot. Battles, clever plans that go awry, and the deaths of heroes and evildoers alike tighten the tension. Yet there is more here than a good yarn. Themes, including nature vs. nurture (e.g., "I have lived away from nature…long enough to learn compassion"), trust (e.g., "I believed the birds of prey would honor their words") and pride (e.g., "Ragtag realized what a horrible burden it was to be a leader") suffuse the plot. Even humor, from clueless humans, enlivens things.A chart of the various birds' affiliations would clarify complicated relationships; making one would be an engaging activity for this book's many avid readers. Reviewer: Cynthia Levinson
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—As the people of Boston go about their business unaware, the Feathered Alliance—consisting of sparrows, swallows, pigeons, and other city birds—prepares for battle. The raptors, who previously occupied the adjacent woods, have been routed by clearing of the land. Now they seek to take over the city, and their superior size and might assure their victory. When Ragtag, a small and insignificant swallow, stumbles onto an eagle that is tangled in ropes and sets him free, the bird of prey promises to stand with the Feathered Alliance. But then he disappears, and Ragtag must find a way to prove to his friends that he was not lying about the eagle. In the vein of Erin Hunter's "Warriors" series (HarperCollins) and Kathryn Lasky's "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" (Scholastic), this novel opens up the world of these lively feathered creatures and their way of life. The story line moves quickly, making it a good choice for reluctant readers. The qualities of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice are themes explored as Ragtag and his friends battle for their lives and homes. An enjoyable read that could easily become a series.—Debra Banna, Sharon Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Standard animal warfare, awkwardly didactic but bolstered by creative city details. The Feathered Alliance, a group of various Boston bird clans, scrabbles to defend its urban territory against a band of predatory birds from the west. Narrative point of view alternates as Ragtag, a swallow, rises swiftly from semi-outcast to Alliance leader. The Talon Empire invades for two contradictory reasons: "an unquenchable lust for power," and having recently become homeless when humans' "loud machines, brightly colored bulldozers and whining saws . . . cut down the trees where the raptors dwelled." These reasons-being "forced to seek a new home" and the desire to "enslave" city birds-simply don't match up. Lessons are cliched ("it's not the size of one's beak or claw that will win this war, but the size of one's heart"). However, city-lovers will thrill when birds fly into the Boston Public Library and the Old South Church, hide at the Public Garden's swan pond and catch an ear-splitting ride on the undercarriage of a subway train. For bird, battle and Boston enthusiasts. (Fantasy. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547074245
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/17/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012

    Ragtag

    Best book of mine

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Fantastic read

    Great book for action and bird lovers..... GOOOO BIRDSSSS!!!!!! :>

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2010

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    Posted September 10, 2010

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