“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench
rollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater----'

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ratha's Courage • Young Adult fiction (fantasy)

Ratha’s Courage: The Fifth Book of the Named
by Clare Bell

October, 2008 • Imaginator Press • YA Fiction
The return of Ratha: kept alive by fans, the critically acclaimed teen fantasy series returns after 14 years.
Story: Ratha, the fiery female leader of the sentient prehistoric cat clan called the Named, continues her story in this new novel. In Ratha's Courage, the Named attempts to share the gift of fire with the mammoth-hunting clan introduced in Ratha’s Challenge, but the contrasting values of two very different cultures lead to misunderstanding, tragedy, and war. Ratha learns that reaching out to others, especially when the chasm is so wide, takes true courage.
Story behind the story: Clare Bell’s first book, Ratha’s Creature, was published in 1983, with help and encouragement from science fiction writer Andre Norton and legendary editor Margaret K. McElderry. Ratha’s Creature garnered an International Reading Association award, a Pen Center award, a Booklist starred review, and a place on the American Library Association's Best Books for Young People list. Three more books about Ratha followed between 1984 and 1993, two of which were also on the ALA Best Books for Young People list.

The series eventually went out of print, and Clare stopped writing, but a base core of fans kept the series alive and Firebird Books resurrected the series last year, reprinting the four original books in 2007 with new cover art. Now, Imaginator Press is publishing Ratha’s Courage, the first new book in the series in fourteen years. In its electronic newsletter, Horn Book magazine recently recommended the series for older Warriors fans looking for new books. With romance, friendship, epic battles, and thought-provoking themes, the Named series is loaded with teen appeal.
FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say about it -- plus more to come!

15 comments:

J.R.Poulter/J.R.McRae said...

Hi Deborah
This is a great blog!
But - I don't recognise most of the material - expect it is as I thought - much of what gets published in the USA doesn't ever each here. I'm sure it applies even more in reverse.
I'll have a serious dig around Borders out here and see what I can find .......

Deborah Sloan said...

Thanks - the blog's all about bringing books - particularly new-to-be-discovered children's and YA books - to the teachers and librarians who share them with kids. Sometimes the titles may not be known because they've just been or are soon-to-be-published. Also, keep in mind, that a title's publication date can differ from one country to another, so a book that publishes here in the fall, may not get published elsewhere for another year or more. Do be sure to check out local independent stores and also libraries as they may know of the titles mentioned. And lastly, here's hoping you find many books here worth packing for in your next picnic basket.

Mila said...

Ratha's Courage tells tale of Ratha's adventure in protecting her clan.
This books is targeted to a very specific audience. I am not certain if it can appeal to more diverse YA readers - or even YA fantasy readers. With the open buffett of fantasy choices these days, I find it hard to relate or to recommend this book.
Maybe to Warriors (another cat-themed fantasy books) series fans, this book will be more of an extensions - like Spiderwick Chronicles, etc, to Harry Potter.
Rating: 2

Val said...

I thought this was a great book. Normally, I don't read fantasy books because I've found that I get very annoyed while reading fantasy type books. However, I thought Ratha's Courage was very well written and interesting. I surprised myself when I realized that I actually wanted to continue reading the book. I did read the first book in this series, Ratha's Creature, before reading Ratha's Courage so that I could become more familiar with the characters. My fourth graders (many who are die-hard Warriors and now Seekers fans) would enjoy reading this book. I would recommend this book for students in 5th grade or up though because of some of the mating / "being in heat" descriptions. I think that readers who are able to immerse themselves into this world that Clara Bell has created, a world of animals and fantasy, will find this book to be a satisfying read. I would give this book a 3.5.

Val
Elementary School Teacher
NJ

Ellen said...

I enjoyed Ratha's Courage. The description used was unlike most YA literature I have found. I am not sure it is the best of the genre, but anything with a female lead is worth noting. I also enjoyed the animal references. This book might get those who are into animals into more of the fantasy genre.
Some of the detail I found to be a bit gory, but most young people would probably find it realistic.
I did read the first book in the series so I was familiar with many of the characters.
I give this book a 3.

Anonymous said...

Ratha's Courage is a very unique book that contains some fantasy elements that do not appeal to many readers. I'm afraid that the sheer volume of the book--it weighs in at about 370 pages--might turn some kids away. It wasn't a page turner for me and I would only recommend it to those students who have read and enjoyed the previous books in this series.
I give it a rating of 2.
6th grade teacher
Chicago, IL

Anonymous said...

Ratha's Courage is your basic 'meat-and-potatoes' fantasy novel -- tons of action with overly-dramatic dialogue. Good for struggling middle-schoolers with just the right amount of useful vocab words ('puzzled', 'exultaion', 'speculate' etc.). I agree with other reviewers that it would be a hard sell to students who are not die-hard fantasy fans.

Jason P.
ELA 8
Oakland, CA

Anonymous said...

BTW -- I give it a 4 as a fantasy novel, 2.5 overall.

Jason P.

Peacham Library said...

Ratha's Courage is a richly detailed book about two clans of cats. One clan, the Named, are herders and can control fire. The other clan, which communicates via "the song" are hunters. The plot is simple--what happens when two differently minded groups interact? Can Ratha control the outcome?
I found the going somewhat tedious, too much detail and not enough action. I believe Clare Bell knows her cats, the description of how a cat might sense who a different cat is was incredible. However, I kept waiting for things to happen rather than to learn about the intricacies of the daily lives the characters.
I believe some young adults will be enamoured with this book (and the whole series). It is well written, but will require the right readers.
I give this a 3, as I'll recommend the book to some of my fantasy readers, but not all of them.
Becky
Peacham Library Co-Director

Anonymous said...

This was the first book in this series that I have read, and I found it difficult to get hooked. I was nearly to page 100 before I began enjoying the story and wanting to keep reading. I feel that if I was already familiar with the characters, I might have been more interested. I can picture myself pulling out selected readings from the book to lead into a discussion on cultural differences and the problems they can cause. I give this book a 3.

Barb C
6th grade SS teacher
North Port,FL

Ms. Wojo said...

Ratha's Courage, the fifth book of the Named series by Clare Bell, was recently offered by the Picnic-Basket. The description sounded interesting, so I decided to request a copy.

I found the characters interesting and the descriptions vivid.

The meadow was large and irregular, with smaller areas fenced off by brush and low trees. In one such corner, Ratha found Cherfan guarding a herd of three-horn deer while his partner for the day, red-gold Bira, tended a watch fire nearby.

Bira was an unusual and striking color for the Named, who tended to be shades of brown and tan, some with faint spots that lingered from their cubhood. The hue of Bira's long fur was most intense down her back, deep gold tipped with reds and oranges. Her one vanity was her beautifully plumed tail.



However, I couldn't get over the fact that I had no idea what was going on in this story. This is the FIFTH book in a series that I am not familiar with so references to Ratha's cubs were confusing at best. I also found Ratha's relationship with Thakur mystifiying; clearly there is a past, but I don't know what it is.

Obviously, my lack of understanding is my fault as I attempted to read this story without having read the previous four. Therefore, for the unitiatied I would only give this a 2 (recommend under certain situations) because the reader has to deal well with ambiguity in a story (which, apparently, I don't). However, for fans of Ratha, I would say this is a 4 or 5. Clearly there is great depth in this saga, but I think it's more for fans of the story from the 80's and 90's. Those of us who haven't read any of the Named series need to start with Book 1!

mjbar said...

A couple of fantasy lovers read this book and thought it enjoyable. They also didn't feel like you had to have read the previous books in the set to get the enjoyment; the book seemed to stand fairly well on its own.

Clix said...

I give this book a 3. It's definitely an enjoyable read, and I don't think you HAVE to have read the previous books to be able to figure out what's going on, but it would help. It's got a female character but is also definitely high on the adventure/action, which I think would make it appeal to boys or girls.

Linda said...

This book was read by another fantasy reader as well as the first book in the series. She liked it well enough that I have ordered the three other titles in the series! It is written by someone who obviously understands cats and has integrated this into the fantasy. The language maybe a turn-off for non-fantasy readers or reluctant readers, but will definitely be appreciated by the readers of the Warriors series.

I would rate this book 3 baskets.

Bookreader said...
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