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Das Geheimnis der Halami (1992)

von T. A. Barron

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Reihen: Adventures of Kate (2)

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609539,212 (3.92)6
While helping her Great Aunt Melanie try to protect an Oregon redwood forest from loggers, thirteen-year-old Kate goes back five centuries through a time tunnel and faces the evil creature Gashra, who is bent on destroying the same forest.
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Picked this up because of the rave review on the back from Madeleine L'Engle. I'm not surprised they solicited her for a blurb, as it's a quite similar story to her "An Acceptable Time" - young girl and a problematic young man travel back in time to meet a Native American tribe. This book however, takes a more typical quest-story format, has more fantastic elements, and has a more blatant (but well-done) environmentalist message. (The main plot element has to do with saving a lost stand of ancient redwoods from the short-sightedness of a poor Oregon logging town.)
It's not marketed as a YA novel, but I would definitely categorize it as such. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
A good ol' nostalgic gem. One of my favorites from my middle school years. ( )
  helynrob | Aug 13, 2013 |
T.A. Barron’s The Ancient One is a paint-by-numbers young adult fantasy, which browbeats the reader with environmentalist themes without leavening the experience with engaging characters or entertaining plot.

The protagonist, thirteen-year-old Kate Gordon, is little more than a reader surrogate in this, the second volume of a loose trilogy. Her role is to ask questions to drive the exposition, to calmly accept the twists and turns of the adventure plot, and to behave with unimpeachable bravery and courage. Along the way, she meets a variety of stock characters, including a mysterious old aunt, a selection of noble savages, wise magical beings, evil lizard men, etc. None of these stand out as distinct characters, beyond the comfortable roles which they were written to fill.

Kate is a stock heroine, whose emotions are limited to righteous indignation and longing for home. But everything she does is in service to the plot. Even when called upon to attempt murder of a human ally of the main villain, she does so without a second thought.

The environmentalist message of the novel is clear from the start, portraying nature and Native Americans at odds with European, imperialist culture. Those who wish to disrupt the natural order are evil at worst, or misguided at best. This sort of clear-cut dichotomy is appealing to anyone who ever had a poster of dolphins on her wall, but does not challenge the reader to examine the real, complex issues of environmental stewardship. The author punches emotional buttons to win the reader to his way of thinking, nothing more.

Intriguingly, only the women of the story are naturally in tune with the environment. Men serve either as antagonists, or as wayward sons who must learn the error of their ways. Even the Tinnanis (the wise and powerful magical creatures who live in tune with nature and are therefore Better Than Humans) are led by a cantankerous and greedy old man, under the guidance of his wise and patient wife. I doubt this was a conscious decision on the part of the author, but rather an outgrowth of the outmoded stereotypes he employed to construct his story.

The climactic final battle lacks any real sense of danger. Of more concern to the reader is the fate of Kate’s companions, about whom she forgets until the battle is over, and we learn that they were magically conveyed to safety offscreen.

The book was appealing enough for me to finish, bland without being completely tasteless. The setting was evocative and well communicated. The denouement might have been a surprise to a young reader, but to an older reader, it has an element of tragic inevitability. In other words, it’s one of the few elements that works equally well for a mature audience. Still, the story cuts off abruptly with a “where are they now” type epilogue, which implies the author knew what happened next but did not bother to work it up into a more narrative form.

In the end, The Ancient One is a shallow shadow-puppet of a book. It would likely be appreciated by middle schoolers who are still satisfied with a world in black and white, but does not reward deeper reading or encourage deeper thinking. ( )
1 abstimmen shabacus | Jan 14, 2012 |
I love T.A. Baron's books. They are great. ( )
  ccavaleri | Nov 12, 2009 |
Such a magical and wonderful book. I think anyone who likes magical mysteries should read this. ( )
  QueenAlyss | Aug 18, 2007 |
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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
T. A. BarronHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Gilbert, YvonneUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt

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To my mother, Gloria Barron.

With special appreciation to Denali, age three, for the name Kandeldandel.
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First, God created Rain. Then Drizzle. Then Mist, then Fog. And then: More Rain.
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While helping her Great Aunt Melanie try to protect an Oregon redwood forest from loggers, thirteen-year-old Kate goes back five centuries through a time tunnel and faces the evil creature Gashra, who is bent on destroying the same forest.

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