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SUMMERLAND by Michael Chabon Kirkus Star

SUMMERLAND

By Michael Chabon

Age Range: 10 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-7868-0877-2
Publisher: Hyperion

“Well, we got no choice, an’ that’s a fact. The Rade has showed up, years before we ever done expected them, and yer about ten years shy o’ half-cooked, but we got no choice. There ain’t no time ta go looking for another champion. I guess ya’ll hafta do.” Thus is 11-year-old Ethan Feld, the worst ballplayer in the history of the game, drafted by the Home Run King of three worlds to forestall the end of the world at Ragged Rock. Ragged Rock is not a place but a moment—the last out of the bottom of the ninth—and the Rade is the combined hordes of Coyote, the Changer, who is bent on poisoning the four great branches of the World Tree. After the death of his mother, however, Ethan hasn’t much faith in his ability to be anybody’s hero, but when his Zeppelin-designer father is kidnapped by Coyote to engineer Ragged Rock, he takes up a baseball-bat-sized chunk of the World Tree and joins the cause. Plaiting together elements from Scandinavian and Native American mythology, American legend, and world literature, Pulitzer-winner Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, 2000, etc.), writing for young people for the first time, constructs a uniquely American fantasy peopled by were-animals, sasquatches, giants, and ferishers—fairies who look like nothing so much as 18-inch-high storybook Indians—and fueled by a healthy reverence for the Great American Game. As catcher and slugger for Big Chief Cinquefoil’s Traveling Shadowtails All-Star Baseball Club, Ethan is joined by Clam Island teammates Jennifer T. Rideout and Thor Wignutt, and an assortment of otherworldly supporters. Together they barnstorm across the Summerlands until, at Diamond Green, they meet Coyote and his team of Hobbledehoys, for one last, great game. The sprawling, vigorous narrative pulls out all the stops, gleefully reveling in the wonders it produces at every turn, from the magically ever-sunny corner of drizzly Clam Island to the varied denizens of the Summerlands. This raucous, exhilarating, joyful, and, above all, fun offering displays an enormous respect for the tradition of great fantasies that come before it, from Irving, Baum, and Nesbit, to Lewis, Tolkien, and Pullman, while confidently taking its place beside them. (Fiction. 10+)