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Posts Tagged ‘daryl burkhard’

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on the Eco-Libris website.

The book I chose, Riddle in The Mountain by Daryl Burkhard, is published by Dogtooth Books, an imprint of Nomad Press, which is a member of the Green Press Initiative. According to the copyright page, Nomad Press “contributes a percentage of its resources to non-profit organizations working on projects related to the topic of its books.” The book is printed on recycled paper, and as part of the Green Press Initiative, the publisher must adhere to minimum standards for manufacturing. Other green features, according to the publisher, include black-and-white printing; the use of a printer, Friesens, with robust in-house environmental practices; and a minimal freight footprint because it was manufactured in North America, specifically Canada.

I think this campaign is important, especially for people like me who like the feel of a book in their hands and are a bit resistant to the emergence of e-readers. I love everything about printed books — the smell, the texture, and how these differ for every book. But I struggle with the fact that books eat up paper, not to mention other aspects of the printing process that consume energy and other resources and create pollution. It’s nice to know that many publishers are taking steps to make the process more eco-friendly, and it’s important to look for these “green” books whenever possible.

Okay, now on to the book itself. Riddle in the Mountain is an engaging book for middle-grade readers that touches upon ghosts, time travel, and the Wild West. Burkhard tells the story of Kathy, a 12-year-old girl who hears whispers and learns that she has a gift that enables her to open the door to another world. Her family just moved to Boulder, Colorado, and she’s afraid of the dark, so it’s quite possible that the voices she hears are in her head. Her neighbor, Mrs. Acheson, however, recognizes Kathy’s gift. After being teased by her 13-year-old brother, David, and his friend, Frank, the trio go on a late-night ghost hunt — much to Kathy’s dismay — and meet a tommyknocker who lets them know that a door has been opened by the one with the gift and that the three of them must save the key and return it to its rightful place so he can go home to the mountains and the mines.

To accomplish this goal, he imprints a riddle in their minds, each of them with a different part of the riddle.  They find themselves transported to Boulder, Colorado, in 1879 without money, appropriate attire, or adult supervision. They have only the riddle and a desire to find the key, but of course, they must enjoy the hands-on history lesson. Who wouldn’t?

On their journey, they meet Rocky Mountain Joe, who teaches Kathy a lot about life:

Kathy groaned.  “Not me,” she said in a low tone so the boys wouldn’t hear. “The dark scares me.”

Rocky Mountain Joe tilted his head and gave a quizzical look from under his leather hat. “I reckon that’s because you imagine bad things in the dark. Think of its beauty and wonders, instead: the call of the nighthawk in the fading sky; the roar of its wings as it dives for an evening meal; crickets calling back and forth; laughing coyotes as they sing their melodies; the hooting of the owl; or the brilliance of the stars and moon. Without the night and its cloak of darkness, we would miss these wonderful things.”

“What about ghosts and goblins and — well, other things?”

Joe laughed. “Can’t say I’ve run into any of them. Leastwise, none that I can’t handle,” he added with a wink.

Riddle in the Mountain is an action-packed adventure perfect for readers between the ages of 9 and 12, but I think adults could enjoy it, too; I found it to be an enjoyable read. Burkhard’s descriptions of the Wild West bring the scenes to life, and illustrations by Frank Riccio only add to the book’s charm. The characters seemed true to the period, and Kathy, David, and Frank were very real — bickering and all! The mystery of the riddle and the tommyknocker who sent them on their journey grabbed my attention right away, and it was interesting to see how the children joined together, adapted to their new environment, and learned a lot about themselves along the way. I recommend Riddle in the Mountain if you’re looking for a quick read that requires a little thinking but isn’t overwhelming or if you have children fascinated by ghosts, gold mines, western pioneers, and time travel.  The book received an Independent Publishers Award.

More green information about Riddle in the Mountain: The book is 100% PCW (post-consumer waste), processed chlorine free.  The paper is 55-pound New Leaf EcoBook 100, natural antique.

Disclosure:  I received a copy of Riddle in the Mountain from Dogtooth Books/Nomad Press for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2009 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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