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"I may not be big and strong, but I am brave enough to be an Owl of Valor," Tag. –The Ember Stone
The Ember Stone
The Last Firehawk #1
by Katrina Charman
The powerful vulture, Thorn, is using dark magic to destroy Perodia. Tag, a small owl, and his best friend, Skyla, want to save their home. Tag hopes to join the Owls of Valor and become a brave warrior. Tag is small and inexperienced, but he is brave. When Tag and Skyla meet the last firehawk, the three begin a journey in search of the magical Ember Stone. Can the three friends find the stone and save Perodia?
Written for newly independent readers, The Ember Stone will appeal to adventure seekers. The story has many elements that will keep readers interested. The illustrations show emotion, and the tiger bats add danger and suspense to the story. Mystery is added when Tag and Skyla come across a magical golden egg. Onomatopoeias are scattered throughout the beginning of the story, which makes reading fun as well as adds to the threatening mood. Short sentence structure, dialogue, and simple vocabulary make The Ember Stone easy to read. Black-and-white illustrations appear on every page, which helps bring the story to life.
Tag is a brave little owl, who wants to help stop the dark magic from destroying his home. Although Tag is clearly the hero in the story, he finds the firehawk egg and a piece of the Ember stone by accident. Tag has the bravery to be a hero, but his actions lack intention. The hope that the newly hatched firehawk will learn to speak soon, and will then be able to “tell us what to do” is unrealistic.
The book begins with an introduction to help readers understand the conflict. A two-page map of Perodia gives a visual of the geography and location of important landmarks. The last page of the book contains four questions and an activity, which will reinforce important comprehension skills. Readers who love animals and a good adventure will enjoy The Ember Stone.
- Tiger bats attack Tag and Skyla, who hide in a hollow tree trunk. “Clack, clack, clack. Tag and Skyla held their breath as the tiger bats’ beaks snapped above them.”
- Later in the story, the tiger bats attack again. “Skyla fired a pinecone at its head. ‘Stay back!’ she shouted, hitting it between the eyes.” The battle lasts for several pages. The tiger bats leave when the firehawk appears and “there was a flash of light and heat. . . He heard the whoosh of many winds, then all was quiet.”
- Prickle ants attack Tag, Skyla, and Blaze. “The three friends hopped along, trying to escape. But the prickle ants crawled up their legs, biting and stinging.” The friends jump in the water to escape.
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- Firehawks “were magical birds who protected the Ember stone—a stone that holds magic within.”
- One of the owls, Grey, has yellow eyes that “sparkled with magic.” When Grey waves a wing, “an image appeared beside his head” showing Tag why going to the caves will be dangerous.
- When a piece of the Ember Stone is placed on a map, “the map glowed, brighter and brighter. . . When Tag looked again, a small shining dot appeared on the map.” The magical map guides the friends to the next location to which they must travel.