Way back in January of 2010, I reviewed Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, by Laurel Snyder.
Here's what I said back then, which you can skim; I've highlighted where The Important Part begins.
you are looking for a nice (in all the
good meanings of that word) fantasy adventure type book to give to an 8 or 9
year old kid, Up and Down the Scratchy
Mountains, by Laurel Snyder (2008,
but just reprinted as a Yearling Paperback) is one I'd recommend. It is a lovely
quest fantasy for the beginners, with little Darkness but lots of
Lucy, a milkmaid, and Wynston, a prince, are best friends. But
suddenly one day Wynston's life as a prince interferes with their friendship,
and Lucy takes off in a huff (accompanied by a young cow named Rosebud--one of
those things that just sometimes happens). She's going to climb the Scratchy
Mountains, and find her mother. No-one has actually come out and said she's
dead, after all.
But what she finds up in the mountains isn't all fun and
games...her path leads to the village of Torrent, a strange dystopia whose
strict rules may mean the end of the small wild animal Lucy befriended on her
journey. So even though Lucy is as tough a young heroine as they come, it's a
good thing Wynston has taken off after her. Two friends working together can do
things that one person can't...and adventures are much more friendly with
Snyder tells her deceptively simple story with verve and zest.
Sprinkled with amusing tidbits, the action swings along swingingly. It is a book
that a moderately confident reader could read to themselves, and it also is a
great book to read out loud, to boys or girls (tip on reading out loud to your
boys-- if you make sure you are holding the book you want to read face down as
you approach them, they might not notice covers that look like girl
But I think it is more than just a good story, well-told. In a
non-preachy way, and almost as an aside, it has messages of the sort I, for one,
want my children to internalize. Things like "don't judge people by their status
in society," "Question idiotic laws and governments that think themselves
perfect," "Have the courage to go off and look for things that are important to
you." Things that I want my kids to do (as long as they don't take the cow up
the mountain with them).
Now The Important Part
Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains has just gone out of print in hardback. And rather than see the book pulped, Laurel has bought all the 800 copies that were left, and given them away so that kids who might not have enough books of their own to love will now have one. And she did this at her own expense--read all about it here.
The book is still available new in paperback....and would make a nice addition to any library....
Since I already have a copy, I won't be buying one right now myself, but I am pretty sure that my next bookstore trip will involve buying Laurel's new book, Seven Stories Up, just by way of thanking her for her generosity (and helping, somewhat obliquely, to pay for what she's done!), and of course since I want to read it, it will be nice for me too!