The search for stories to read to the kids is always an ongoing adventure. Stories with a great story line, with quality writing, without questionable actions or words, without too much magic and which can portray values we want to encourage can be hard to find. Brambleheart: A Story About Finding Treasure and the Unexpected Magic of Friendship by Henry Cole fits many of these categories.
Twig, a young chipmunk, was having trouble finding his place in his community. He was unsure what his future held job wise, which would determine how his life would unfold. It did not help that he was an unintentional clutz, often making a mess of things that others found easy to perform. He would much rather have been off looking at his picture books than sitting in metal class, or any class for that matter.
It also did not help that a certain other student seemed to have it out for him. Basil did not let an opportunity pass to make fun of Twig or cause him to have another ‘accident’.
Lily, on the other hand, was a true friend who believed in him even when he seemed to do everything wrong. She stood up for him and helped out where she was able.
One day, after a rough patch at school, Twig decided to run away.
Up until this point in Brambleheart, things had been going fairly well. The author had set the stage for the story to take off, giving the reader a good base and background information. The adventure Twig faced on his journey to leave the group had great potential for excitement and discovery. And it did just that for the first half of his ‘running away’ experience. I think it took a very unexpected and wrong turn when what Twig found was a dragon.
A dragon did not make sense for the story and did nothing to add to what Henry Cole had worked the first half of the book to set up. It felt like a grab to make something fit a need, rather than molding the story to reach the same end.
Another issue I have with the story is toward the last chapter. After spending 20-some chapters making Twig’s life harder, Basil suddenly did an about face and wanted to help out, becoming his friend. There was no explanation given and it again felt forced.
While I was not a fan of the addition of the dragon, I could live with it. It had taken what could have been a great book to one that was okay. However, the sudden shift in friendship left me saying “no” to this book as one to read to the kids. I had really wanted to like this story, but was left feeling like it made no sense.
Brambleheart was a quick read for me, and had not objectionable qualities word or action wise, and so would be okay to read to the kids or for an older child to read on their own. While there was a dragon involved, there was not a lot of magic or sorcery, which was also nice for a kids’ book.
This book will be available at your local bookstore or online in February 2016.
This post contains affiliate links. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss.