________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 34 . . . . May 4, 2012


Chantel's Quest for the Silver Leaf.

Oliver Neubert.
Vancouver, BC: Be Read/Simply Read Books, 2011.
198 pp., trade pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-897476-43-7.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen.

***½ /4



Chantel, Laluna and Ilsole packed their few belongings, and they were soon on their way, inhaling the fresh air and enjoying the bright rays of the sun. Fox flew close by, just below the crowns of the tall trees. They traveled east, towards the land of the Forest People.

All were so focused on the way forward that they didn't notice the many tiny eyes watching them. The small creatures that ran alongside them, darting from bush to bush, tree trunk to tree trunk, were almost invisible. Their dark brown and gray fur was the same color as the branches and leaves, and their steps so light they made hardly any sound. If one didn't know better, the creatures appeared to be harmless, like cute bunny rabbits, but in fact, they were Mugs, deadly and viscous. Drool dripped from their mouths. They were spies, sent by Pizzaro. Through their eyes, Pizzaro was able to see what they saw.

Chantel, the Last Descendent and the Princess of Freedom, is on the third part of her quest to find the four relics and save the Four Lands. With doubts growing about the loyalties of Owl, Chantel's guardian, Chantel and her companions set off for the Forest in the East. They are followed by Aquila Bellum, the Snow Walker, who is grappling with his own loyalties and where they lie.

      To reach the Forest People and find the Silver Leaf, Chantel and her companions must face Pizzaro, the leader of the Shadow Walkers, who is determined to stop Chantel from completing her quest. After one of her companions is poisoned by Pizzaro, Chantel will need the help of all her remaining companions, as well as her brother, to defeat Pizzaro.

      Chantel's quest is becoming more urgent as the Evil One, formerly the Wise One of the West, is almost free from her chains. While Chantel is in the East, the Evil One is preparing to take her revenge on the Mountain People and destroy their stronghold.

      Neubert continues to develop his characters and their relationships with each other. The characters all have to think about which side they are loyal to, a situation which results in several characters changing or beginning to change sides, while others affirm their loyalties. The most interesting character development is between Chantel and the Evil One. Chantel learns about the events that made the Wise One of the West turn against the Mountain People and the Four Lands. This presents a very different side to the Evil One, a side which Chantel is only starting to grapple with in The Silver Leaf. This all makes for a much deeper and more complex story that will continue to draw readers into the Four Lands.

      As with previous books, Neubert limits foreshadowing future events. This is excellent as the reader will not be able to predict many of the events in The Silver Leaf, let alone the ending of the "Chantel's Quest" series. The character development and the limited omniscience of the narrative both aid this while also making the story much more appealing. The Silver Leaf raises far more questions than it answers, not only about the characters and events, but also about the larger themes of connectedness, hope and revenge. Each of these themes is presented through the characters and events, asking the reader to think about how we are all connected to each other and to our world, why hope is important and why some people cling to revenge, even when the original events are far in the past.

      The Silver Leaf is an imaginative and enjoyable continuation of the "Chantel's Quest" series that will continue to attract and intrigue readers.

Highly Recommended.

Daphne Hamilton-Nagorsen is a graduate of the School of Library, Archival and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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