Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Henry Cole
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Twig, a young chipmunk, feels like an outsider in the woodland community of the Hill because he doesn’t feel confident in the crafts he is taught at school. In the Hill, craft mastery determines a creature’s social standing. After a disastrous day, Twig runs away to escape his problems, but encounters a newborn dragon. Seeing no mother dragon, Twig adopts the baby and returns home to secretly care for it. Twig enlists his best friend, Lily, to care for the baby dragon and together they call it Char. Twig uses Char’s ability with fire to aid him with his craft assignments. When it is revealed that Twig and Lily are keeping Char, Char is imprisoned. Twig, Lily, and Basil, an unexpected friend, free Char and set sail down the river to find his family.
Henry Cole’s Brambleheart is a Pete’s Dragon-type story downsized to a forest-floor adventure. Cole’s expressive graphite illustrations help readers to tag right alongside Twig as he stumbles with his choices and succeeds in protecting Char. Twig believes he is worthless in the Hill community. It seems Twig is only good at imagining life outside of the Hill. When Twig finds Char, Twig’s imagination is ignited by Char’s abilities. However, when Char’s health declines, Twig realizes he has put Char’s life in danger just to improve his social standing. Pushing aside the judgments of the Hill, Twig relies on the power of close-knit friendships to save Char’s life. Brambleheart is a fun and fast-paced woodland adventure ideal for young readers ages eight and up.