In honor of the anniversary of the author Brian Jacques passing, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite childhood series: Redwall. It’s funny how I so recently decided to pack up my books for the future, only to suddenly want to unpack them and read them all over again. These are very solid books for older children, full of good triumphing over evil after a long and hard struggle. They contain role models for both genders, though boys will probably find the books more interesting over all. They are fun, relatively easy reads whose similarity in plot will only bother the most cynical (and least comprehensive) of readers.
It’s difficult to address a series as a whole, especially when I haven’t read most of them in entirely too long. I’ll give you an idea of what they are like by talking about my favorite, which I’m currently enjoying in dramatized audiobook format. The Taggerung.
You have the basics of every Redwall book here, evil vermin, the peaceful abbey, certain problems that need solving and threats that need guarding against. However, if one can ignore the basic plot, you will find a very poignant message. The message being that we are more than the people who raised us and it is ultimately our choice who we will become. The book is about leaving behind poisonous upbringings and breaking cycles of abuse. It is about overcoming challenges to become a better person. It is about leaving behind what others (who don’t have our best interests in mind) want us to be and becoming what we are supposed to be. I’d give you a more detailed synopsis, but I honestly don’t want to give anything away.
If the Redwall series teaches anything at all, it is to be courageous in the face of the cruelest of hardships. It may also teach strength and nobility of character, appreciation for simplicity in life, and the importance of community and friendship. It may also make your kids want to learn to cook (and perhaps even eat their vegetables), since the descriptions of the food are always a joy.
The books can be read in any order, but if you want, here is a list of the books in chronological order (as opposed to publishing order).