Redwall

The book Redwall, by Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes), is on my extra credit list for the Once Upon a Time reading challenge. I should get some kind of extra credit for it because I’ve read it aloud 16 times! The year I started teaching 6th grade, a student recommended Redwall as our first read aloud. I took his advice, and the class response was amazing. Everyone enjoyed it, groaning when I had to stop or when the bell rang. When we completed the book, the kids searched through the class library for more books by Jacques. Even my most reluctant readers wanted the story to continue, and often would start reading Redwall all over again by themselves. Year after year, I find that this story, told simply with lovely, descriptive language, sparks the imaginations of my students and helps create a community of reading enthusiasts.

The world of the Redwall books has changed over the last 16 years. Brian Jacques keeps cranking out new books in the series–I think he’s up to 18 now; there’s been an animated version of Redwall on TV; Jacques and company have done their own readings for the audiobook versions of many in the series; and there’s even a new graphic novel of Redwall due out in October. I honestly don’t pay much attention to all of that, although some of my students become totally immersed. My appreciation is for this one little book.

Today the genre is rich with other wonderful stories and imagination that are perfect for 6th graders. But I still begin the school year by reading Redwall aloud, because I know that, without fail, it will capture the hearts of my students.

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17 thoughts on “Redwall

  1. Gentle Reader

    I love Redwall, too! My son, now 10, read the first book in the series a couple of years ago. But he still loves them, and will occasionally go back to the series and read one.

    I remember Redwall fondly, because his school librarian makes the kids prove they’ve done their summer reading by creating a project, so my son chose to cook food from the Redwall books. There a bunch of websites devoted to Redwall food–not surprising, since Jacques does such a great job describing the food, don’t you think? Anyway, my son wanted to make Mole’s Turnip and Tater Deeper’n’Ever Pie, but we made scones instead–yum šŸ™‚

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  2. Robin

    Gentle Reader, what a terrific Redwall project! Yes, the food described in his books is mouth watering. He’s a writer that enjoys his food, that’s for sure. I haven’t seen the Redwall food sites, but I’ll look for them.

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  3. Carl V.

    What a wonderful teacher you are! I have always wanted to read this but haven’t gotten around to it. Your lovely thoughts on this book have encouraged me to go ahead and pick it up. Great review!

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  4. Nan

    I have such a warm feeling about this book. It was a big part of our lives when my kids were younger. I think I read maybe 3 or 4 of the others. One of them (I don’t think it was Redwall) totally creeped me out with some big fish. A pike? It was awful.

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  5. Robin

    Thanks for your kind words, Carl! My students definitely know that reading is my passion. If you read any Brian Jacques, I suggest you start with Redwall. It was the first one written in the series, although it’s not the first one chronologically. But I think it’s his best.

    Nan, the villains in his books are completely evil. I haven’t read all of the series, so I’m not sure which book has the pike as the villain, but I’m sure it was a creepy character!

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  6. Kailana

    The second hand bookstore where I live always has a tonne of books by this author, but never book one. One of these days I am going to track it down and give the series a try!

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  7. Robin

    Kailana, it’s a fun series. Redwall is the first one he wrote, but chronologically it’s in the middle of the series. After Redwall, he wrote prequels and sequels to it…but it IS the anchor for the entire series, with connections to Redwall both before and after.

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  8. Bellezza

    “read it aloud 16 times”! Hooray for you! Don’t you love it when you find an author you and your children love? I have never read a Redwall book, but my beloved son adores them. I bought a stack for 50 cents each at our library, which was reducing its shelves to make room for more books, and the kids in my class “bought” them with their points. It is a very popular series, and a great choice for Carl’s challenge. Good ness Sakes, I’ve had a hard time narrowing down my choices. Now I’m all thinking about adding Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales to my L’Engle choices because I haven’t read them in so long. Don’t you find a lot of meaning underlying fantasy books?

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  9. Robin

    Bellezza, yes I do love to find something that’s so perfect for my kids. 16 times sounds a bit obsessive, but Redwall always made for such a nice beginning-of-the-year experience. And yes, I think there’s a tremendous amount of meaning underlying fantasy books. It’s an especially effective way of getting young people to really THINK about ideas. That’s why I love using it in my classroom.

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  10. Robin

    Quixotic, having reread it as many times as I have, I can honestly say that I don’t get tired of rereading it to kids. It’s just plain fun, especially when you’re sharing it with young people and you get to see their reactions to it.

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  11. booklogged

    I’m going to add this to my bookmooch wishlist. I love children’s and YA fantasy books that are well written. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  12. Robin

    Booklogged, I do love the literature for children and young adults. And the fantasy genre for those age groups is getting richer by the day!

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  13. Charlie Sommers

    Redwall is not just for kids. I am a 67 year old granpa and have read all 19 books.

    When I leave this life I will be happy if I can go to Redwall Abby and eat Beet and Hot Root Soup for eternity.

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  14. David

    Ah, the Redwall series! I discovered them in 5th grade, and after “The Lord of the Rings” and Narnia, which my dad was reading to me back then, it was one of the major series that made me a passionate bibliophile. I read “Mossflower” first, and it remains my favorite for a variety of reasons, but the foundational “Redwall” is itself a fine classic. Who can forget Cluny the Scourge?

    For years I read every new book as they came out, stopping after Lord Brocktree, I think. I’ve always meant to return to his newer books, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. His later stories *were* becoming very repetitive. But still, my fondness for his world and his lively, vibrant style will likely never go away.

    I wholeheartedly commend you for reading “Redwall” to your class. Those kids don’t know how lucky they are!

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