Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy to help facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon’s acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.
As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.
As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…
The preface hooked me. When the author named a place” Ketchup-upon-Hamburg, South Germany” and talked about “attending a yak milking seminar in the high peaks of Katmandont” I was hooked. I interrupted my husband to reread the lines to him. I knew then I would enjoy this book because of the word play.
The author wrote the story in first person through Ven’s journals and then third person throughout the rest. Ven tells us he is from the race of people known as Nain. They live with humans in Vaarn. Here is how he describes them. “…Nain are somewhat shorter than humans, and grumpier. They live almost four times as long as humans, and tend to be much less curious, and much less adventurous. They hate to travel, don’t swim, and generally do not like other people. Especially those who are not Nain. I clearly am not a good example of my race.” The minute I read that last line I was sucked into this wonderful world. He described himself as tall for a Nain. He used sixty-eight Knuckles high as the measurement. I knew I had found an author with such a creative and imaginative mind that it left no doubt I would love this book.
The adventure begins with Ven and his best friend trying to find a fisherman to cut gill slits in their neck. Before the slits can be cut, Madam Sharra shows up and gives him another dragon scale. He must evade the Thief Queen, who is the ruler of the Gated City. Ven must travel with his friend Char and merrow friend Aariel to the bottom of the sea to find the Tree of Water. Finally, he mustreturn the dragon scale to its proper owner, the dragon it came from. He must also avoid getting them all killed by the predators of the sea.
I loved the Reader’s guide in the back of the book. It is aligned to the Common Core Standards. There are discussion Questions as well as Writing and Research Activities. This is the fourth book in this series. It read as a stand alone book. However, I feel I missed some great adventures by not reading the first three books; The Floating Island, The Thief Queen’s Daughter and The Dragon’s lair. I will be purchasing them for my shelves and reading them. Great fantasy lover. This is one I am not going to be able to keep on my shelves and one I may need to purchase as a giveaway prize for my students.