Rowan and the Travelers (Rowan of Rin Series #2)

Rowan and the Travelers (Rowan of Rin Series #2)

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by Emily Rodda

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"The secret enemy is here. It hides in darkness, fools beware!..."

The wise woman seems terrified, and her cryptic message frightens Rowan. He is wondering who the enemy could be, when suddenly the people of Rin begin falling asleep—and not waking up.

What is the strange spell that has settled over Rin? If Rowan can only figure out the meaning

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"The secret enemy is here. It hides in darkness, fools beware!..."

The wise woman seems terrified, and her cryptic message frightens Rowan. He is wondering who the enemy could be, when suddenly the people of Rin begin falling asleep—and not waking up.

What is the strange spell that has settled over Rin? If Rowan can only figure out the meaning hidden in the wise woman's words, he may be able to save his people from this mysterious sleep and from an even worse danger to come....

The Travelers offer to help, but Rowan doesn't know if he can trust them. They suggest that the answer lies in the legendary, noxious Pit of Unrin, and no living thing has ever entered Unrin and returned. If Rowan tackles its unknown hazards, will he find the knowledge he seeks? Will he even survive? Rowan needs wisdom to decide whom to trust, bravery to face the perils of his journey, and both to defeat Rin's deadly secret enemy.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Emily Rodda's Rowan and the Travelers follows up on the magic begun in Rowan of Rin. Now, Rowan struggles to understand the mysterious sleeping sickness that takes over the town with the arrival of a nomadic tribe called the Travelers. ( Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Rowan can't seem to stop sneezing. It's as if the air around him has become his enemy, and only the vile potion brewed by the witch Sheba can calm his nose. As he rounds up the cow-like bukshah one evening, he sees something unusual. The people known as the Travelers come to the town of Rin every couple of years, to trade goods and songs and stories. But last year they were here, and now Rowan sees the Forerunners who herald their coming. Why are they coming again so soon? Have they heard about the new type of berries, the scent of which is sweeter than sweet? Will they steal the secret of growing the mountain berries? The people of Rin decide to lock up their gardens and let no word of the berries escape their lips. When the Travelers learn that they won't be allowed their usual free run of Rin, they are understandably miffed. Then Rin's gardeners discover that their plots' soil has hardened, and they are sure the Travelers have put a curse on the land. After that, misunderstandings multiply, until, when nearly the entire population of Rin falls mysteriously asleep, Rowan and Zeel of the forerunners, are charged with the mission of finding out what is really going on. Rodda describes even the strangest of happenings so clearly that we willingly suspend disbelief and wait for the explanation that comes too soon. The story could lead to family or classroom discussions about politics, foreign relations, trust and ethnic differences. Recommended; besides having some real meaning, this is a good read. And yes, Rowan's allergies have a terrific explanation. 2001 (orig. 1994), Greenwillow, $15.95. Ages 10 up. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-In this sequel to Rowan of Rin (Greenwillow, 2001), the small but courageous protagonist has yet another adventure that proves heroism comes in many sizes. When an unexpected visit, and just as sudden departure, by the traditionally itinerant Travelers is followed by a mysterious sleeping sickness that descends on the village, Rowan and his companion must journey far to find the answers, and the protagonist takes a harrowing trip across the horrific Pit of Unrin. Rodda's likable characters, fast-paced action, tantalizing mystery, and unpredictable story line make for an exciting read. There are several references to the earlier title, but this one stands on its own and readers will look forward to more tales about the indomitable Rowan.-Trish Anderson, Pinkerton Elementary School, Coppell, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A second mysterious threat to his isolated village prompts the humble herd boy introduced in Rowan of Rin (not reviewed) to prove again that a weak body can hide a hero's heart. When the villagers suddenly fall asleep among their newly planted Mountain berry bushes, Rowan chases after a passing group of Romany-like Travelers, hoping to persuade them to lift the supposed curse. Instead, he finds himself in the company of Zeel, a hated Zebak invader raised as a Traveler, attempting to enter the fabled Valley of Gold by passing through its only entrance, the ill-reputed Pit of Unrin. Though arguing and handwringing slow the pace, Rodda gives her characters unusually well developed back stories as well as strong, genuinely scary adversaries. Rowan learns the hard way that the sweetly soporific berries that the people of Rin have planted all around are the juvenile forms of a carnivorous tree with thrashing, tentacle-like roots; fortunately, he also discovers an effective defense in a rhymed riddle's oblique references. The storytelling may be patchy (thanks to plenty of heavy hints, readers will have solved the riddle long before Rowan), but this Australian series shows signs of heading in promising directions. (Fiction. 10-12)

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Rowan of Rin Series, #2
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
7 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Good News, Bad News

"The Travelers are coming. The Travelers are coming!"

The news spread quickly through the village of Rin. The children shouted it in excitement, their voices ringing through the valley and echoing back from the great Mountain that rose above the town. They shouted it running, running madly down from the hills, past the bukshah fields and the orchard, beside the gardens, and all the way to the village square.

They had seen the three Forerunners flying over the hills, the silken kites to which they clung brilliant against the sky. They knew the carts, the horses, and the chattering, singing people were not far behind.

The Travelers were coming, bringing games and stories, dancing and music, wonderful things to trade. Soon their bright tents would spread, fluttering like huge butterflies, among the yellow slipdaisies on the hills above the village. At night their bonfires would brighten the darkness, and their music would ring through the valley. They would stay a week, or two, or three, and for the children every day would be like a holiday.

"The Travelers are coming!"

Standing by the bukshah pool, watching a butterfly struggle from its cocoon on the branch of a tree, the boy Rowan, keeper of the bukshah, heard the cry. But he had already guessed the news.

Long before the other children spied the Forerunners, he had seen the bukshah raise their heads and look across the valley, to the hills. The big animals were listening to something he could not hear.

"So the Travelers are coming?" he said to Star, his favorite of all the great beasts. "You heard their pipes before,didn't you?"

Star stood swaying, looking out to the hills.

"We did not expect to see them this year," Rowan went on, "but it is the season for them. The tadpoles in the stream are growing legs and changing into frogs. The caterpillars are becoming butterflies. And the slip-daisies are in bloom." He sniffled. "As well I know. The pollen makes my nose run."

Star rumbled deep in her throat and shifted her feet restlessly.

"What ails you, Star?" Rowan asked her, scratching her neck under the thick wool. "Be still. All is well."

He looked at Star in puzzlement. All the bukshah had been unsettled lately. And he could not understand why. He had checked them over very carefully. There was no sign of sickness. And yet for days they had seemed nervous and unhappy.

"All is well, Star," he said again.

But Star pawed the ground, pushed at his hand with her heavy head, and refused to be comforted.

"The Travelers are coming!"

Strong Jonn, working in the orchard, heard the cry with surprise, then smiled. The Travelers had come in Rin's direction only twelve months before. He had not expected them again so soon. But he welcomed them. For with the Travelers came their bees.

Soon the bees would be busy in the sweet white blossom of his hoopberry trees. Their hives would begin to overflow with rich, golden hoopberry honey for the Travelers to gather, to eat, and to sell.

But while the bees worked for the Travelers, they would be working for Jonn, too. Bumbling from flower to flower, they would spread the sticky yellow pollen, making sure that fruit would form when the flowers fell. Thanks to the Travelers' bees, Jonn would have a very good harvest in the autumn.

So Jonn was pleased when he heard the children's voices. But he knew others would not be so pleased. For others, the news would be bad.

"The Travelers are coming!"

Bronden the furniture maker heard the cry and frowned, drumming her stubby fingers on the smooth wood of the half-finished table under her hand.

"Slips," she grumbled, kicking her feet in the sawdust on the floor. "Time-wasting, idle, useless Slips!"

She ran her hand over her forehead. She was tired. Tired out. And this-this was the last straw.

The Travelers turned the settled life of the village upside down. They cared nothing for rules, or order, or hard work. They had no settled homes or proper jobs and wanted none. That was why she, and others who thought like her, called the Travelers Slips, after the wild slip-daisies on the hills. Slips made her uncomfortable. They made her angry.

"The Travelers are coming!"

In his little house Timon the teacher heard the cry and sighed over his books. While the Travelers were camping near, the Rin children would fidget and whisper under the Teaching Tree.

Their pockets would bulge with the toys and tricks they had begged or bought from the camp on the hill. Their mouths would be full of honey sweets and chews. Their heads would be buzzing with Travelers' tales and legends.

But still, thought Timon, leaning back in his chair and putting his hands behind his head, this visit might be a blessing. It has been a long, hard winter. The children have been tired and out of sorts lately. The Travelers will cheer them up.

He smiled. By my life, I loved Travelers' tales myself, as a boy, he thought. And if stories of the Valley of Gold, the Giants of Inspray, the Misty Crystal, the Pit of Unrin, and all the rest did not hurt me, then why should they hurt the children now?

Timon considered. Perhaps he could visit the Travelers' camp himself this year. Listen once again to the stories. And perhaps buy a handful of honey chews. It was a long time since he had tasted one of those.

Timon closed his eyes and chuckled sleepily to himself at the thought. His mouth was already watering.

"The Travelers are coming!"

Allun the baker heard the cry as he kneaded dough in his warm kitchen. "Do you hear that, Mother? My father's people are on their way," he called over his shoulder. "You had better stop all that talk of growing old and get your dancing shoes out."

Sara came slowly in from the shop, wiping her hands on her apron.

Rowan and the Travelers. Copyright © by Emily Rodda. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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