Fans of Brian Jacques's anthropomorphic Redwall series, which features a world inhabited by furry friends and woodland warriors, will no doubt delight in this whimsical tale of seasonal change. This is a more peaceful Redwall tale -- there are no battles being waged, and wordplay takes the place of swordplay -- but the creatures of Redwall are as intriguing as ever as they celebrate the last day of autumn with a festival of feasting and entertainment.
The skies are bleak and the air is chilled, but the residents of Redwall are in a cozy, celebratory mood. The abundance and beauty of autumn is at an end, but the arrival of winter, with its soft clouds of snow and pristine beauty, is eagerly anticipated. To celebrate, the creatures have put together a huge banquet of Redwall treats, including barley dumplings, chestnut bread, candied acorns, and celery cheese. An air of merriment infuses the festively decorated halls of the Abbey as the creatures eat their fill and enjoy the antics of a troupe of visiting entertainers -- hares, mousemaids, moles and otters who sing, dance, and juggle for their meals.
When the night's festivities are done, everyone snuggles into bed in anticipation of the arrival of the great white Snow Badger. Every beast must fall asleep quickly, for it is rumored that the Snow Badger will retreat in haste, taking his winter wonderland with him if anyone witnesses his magic. But a young, trouble-seeking mole named Bungo awakens shortly after the Snow Badger arrives, catching the Old Lord of Wintertide in the act. Will the young mole's impudence ruin winter for the creatures of Redwall? Or will the season of ice skating, tobogganing, and snowballing come as expected?
A smattering of poetry, a smidgen of dialect, and an anagram riddle provide plenty of wordplay in this heartwarming tale. Christopher Denise's colorful illustrations -- autumn scenes infused with rich, earthy colors and winter scenes that manage to look warm and inviting despite a bleak and chilly landscape -- add to the fun. This is Redwall at its celebratory best. (Beth Amos)