This first fantasy book in the "The Edge Chronicles" by Paul Stewart is published by David Fickling Books, an imprint of Random House Children's Books.
Beyond the Deepwoods is written for kids ages 9 to 11. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
When Twig turns 13, his surrogate woodtroll mother, Spelda, reveals he's adopted and sends him away to discover his destiny. Although woodtrolls are taught not to "stray from the path," Twig has no choice but to forge his own way through the Deepwoods. Twig encounters various creatures on his journey — slaughterers, hover worms, caterbirds, bloodoaks and rotsuckers. Some befriend him; some attempt to devour him. At last, he meets a crew of sky pirates and learns the truth about his past.
A creature called the Gloamglozer could be likened to Satan; he calls himself "a deceiver, a trickster, a cheat and a fraud." He undermines Twig's confidence by telling him, "You are nothing."
Twig's woodtroll guardians send him away because he isn't one of them, and they believe his destiny lies elsewhere. Twig is on his own for most of the book, except for the creatures he encounters. At the end, the father, who was forced to abandon Twig as a baby, welcomes him back into his life
Other Belief Systems
Twig and Spelda pray while touching the lucky charms and amulets worn around their necks. Twig does question whether "small pieces of wood and leather can really keep [his enemies] at bay." Twig and Spelda also use phrases like "Sky willing," "Thank Sky" and "Sky d--n you."
Twig uses the word d-- once.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- When is it good to "stray from the path" as Twig did?
- When is it better to follow the known path?
- Adopted children could find Spelda's behavior (in sending Twig away) disconcerting. Parents may wish to address the fact that adoption is a permanent decision.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.