Next up during Laurel Snyder September is her novel Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains. This low fantasy set in a medieval kingdom follows Lucy, a spirited girl who wants more to life than simply being a milkmaid who spends her free time playing with the heir to the kingdom’s throne. She has mostly grown up with only her father and younger sister after being told as a young child that her mother was ‘gone.’ Lucy wants to know more about her mother’s sudden disappearance from her life so she takes it upon herself to journey to a nearby mountain where she believes her mother grew up. Can Lucy discover what caused her mother to be ‘gone’ from her life?
From the beginning of this novel there is a lot of humor; it is included through small comments that contain jokes at the expense of common fairy-tale lore or through little events such as the king curtsying so Wynston, the prince and Lucy’s best friend, can practice talking to princesses. I enjoyed these little moments, though they did wane (probably purposely as the weight of the trip is made clear) as Lucy’s journey continued up the mountain.
I liked Lucy’s strong personality and her independent streak. Although Lucy is generally seen as independent, she shows depth due to her inner desire to not be alone. When she is alone, she thinks of her missing mother: “Slowly Lucy had begun to question: If her mother was alive, where had she gone? Why had she gone? The question was like a tiny little fly, buzzing around her head all the time. When she was busy, she barely noticed it, but when she was alone and the world got quiet, the fly seemed loud as anything.” Lucy reminds me of the protagonist in The Enchanted Forest Chronicles thanks to the aforementioned traits. The jabs at fairy tales also stick out as a similarity between Snyder’s book and that series by Patricia Wrede.
This book contains an underlying theme that deals with following rules and deciding when rules should be broken. Both Lucy and Wynston have places in the story when they choose to break a rule because it doesn’t meet with their own code of ethics. The following statement about Wynston demonstrates this conundrum: “He was so confused. He knew he was right, that laws were there for a reason. But he knew that what Lucy was feeling was also right. Maybe there were different kinds of right.”
I enjoyed this novel from Laurel Snyder. The adventure of Lucy has enough happening to keep readers interested throughout. The writing is peppered with strong vocabulary that can be defined thanks to context clues so younger readers can decipher these words. Detailed drawings are included throughout the book to help readers imagine what is happening in this world. This is a good book for readers looking for some light fantasy that still contains meaningful themes.
And last but not least, I have included the trailer for this book. It’s… a little different from the book trailers I have shared for previous books.
(As of this posting, that child is still not for sale.)
Continue with your Snyderific September!