Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Eagle, the Cave, and the Footbridge by Robert B. Sloan

Hamelin Stoop

From the opening chapter, readers will be enthralled with this heart-stopping adventure. Simon and his wife Johnnie, are new parents and take drastic measures to protect their newborn from being captured by Ren'dal's forces. A glimpse into that dark world is only a part of the story line.

The parallel story involves Hamelin Stoop, the youngest resident at an orphanage. Having been abandoned as a baby, the only family he knows are the staff at the orphanage and the fellow orphans who live there. Unfortunately, employees leave for other opportunities and fellow orphans grow up and move away. On his 9th birthday, when his special day had been utterly forgotten, Hamelin decides he'll run away. He stumbles on a cave and meets a majestic eagle (that can talk!).  He follows him until he comes to a footbridge and there his courage fails him and he runs back to the orphanage.

From that time forward, he is haunted by the images of the cave he found, the eagle who spoke and the humiliating failure at crossing the footbridge. The next few years he cannot get the adventure out of his mind and confides in the two people he is closest to: siblings Bryan and Layla. They make a point of tying to visit Hamelin each summer and try to help him make sense of his strange encounter with the eagle.

 Be forewarned, the book ends with a cliff hanger so readers will want to stay tuned for the continuation of the tale. In spite of the unresolved ending, readers will relate to Hamelin's struggles to fit in at school, to stand up to bullies and to find his place in the world. With the help of loving friends and some wise teachers, Hamelin learns valuable life lessons.

The Eagle, The Cave, and the Footbridge offers adventure, mystery, and suspense as well as a hint at deeper meaning behind the story. I highly recommend this book as a family read aloud for ages 8 and up (there is a bit of violence in the beginning). Reading aloud as a family provides opportunity to discuss similar struggles kids may be facing at school but also provides opportunities to explore ways the story is allegorical. I loved how a number of classic children's books were woven into the storyline.  It makes for an awesome reading list to tackle while waiting for the sequel to come out!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of The Eagle, the Cave, and the Footbridge from BookSirens for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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