books and reading


Back when I was teaching, my middle school kids were obsessed with this series. The series has a staggering 22 books, starting with Redwall, published in 1986. Now that I have kids of my own, I’ve been trying to convince my oldest to read it. He’s still young and daunted by books that are over 100 pages, so it might be a few years, but I’m glad I have a few of the books to provide him when he’s ready.

The story follows a little abbey called Redwall and the mice that inhabit it. They are good, happy mice, trying to help their Mossflower wood, take care of creatures in the wood, and generally go about their lives normally. The brave Martin the Warrior is a hero and legend from their past. They all strive to be like Martin and stand up for what’s right in the world. The rat, Cluny the Scourge, has other plans. He seeks to destroy Redwall for no reason other than he’s evil.

The young hero, Matthias, goes on a quest to find Martin’s famed shield and sword to use against Cluny, but discovers the quest isn’t easy. He’s encouraged by his fellow mice, but not everyone in Mossflower gets along. Mice don’t live well with birds, for example. The sparrows in the woods try to kill the mice, including Matthias, every chance they get. He has to find a way to befriend them to get what he wants.

Not only does Matthias have to deal with sparrows, but he meets some shrews, a cat, an owl, and a snake along the way, all of whom seek to destroy him. But Matthias is a brave mouse and nothing will stop him from saving Redwall.

This book was delightful. Matthias is such a sweet mouse, you can’t help but cheer for him. Cluny is well-described as an evil villain, outsmarting a fox, even, but he’s no match for Matthias. I can see why my students loved these books. I hope my own kids do too.