Reviewed by Ian Carter
This book is aimed, I imagine, primarily at older children, perhaps in their early teens or a little younger for more advanced readers. That being so, when asked to read it I thought I’d have a look at a chapter or two to get a flavour of the writing and write the review based on that. I wasn’t sure I’d have the stamina to follow the fortunes of the two young, talking mountain hares Leap and Snow to the end of their story.
But I was wrong. The text is lively, entertaining and rings true in the way it describes upland landscapes and the animals that live there. Clearly it has been written by someone who has spent time in these habitats and knows them well. As a result, the book works for older readers too. I’m not sure I’d recommend it specifically to adults but as a book for an adult to read to a young child you could do far worse. The storyline will hold the attention of younger readers and the subtlety of the descriptions of animals, their behaviour and their interactions with other species will appeal to adults.
I certainly learnt a thing or two about mountain hare behaviour and that of the animals they come into contact with. To take just one example, the relative merits of whether to run (preferably uphill), jump up or freeze when faced with a potential predator. Freezing might work well in some situations but against the mysterious keepers with their lamps, machines and strange power to strike with deadly force from a distance, it is not always such a good option.
The book carries messages about upland management that readers of this blog will be familiar with, but they are dealt with subtly without being overplayed or detracting from the flow of the story. There are wider lessons too about sibling cooperation, trust and the sometimes fraught relationships between parents and offspring.
We often hear that children would benefit from reading more books and this is just the sort of book they should be reading.
The Blue Hare by Hugh Webster is published by Natural Storytelling