Reviews for First Light : Library Edition

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #3
Stead's debut novel begins as realistic fiction before introducing elements of fantasy. Twelve-year-old Peter travels from New York to Greenland, where his father is researching global warming. In a parallel story, fourteen-year-old Thea is worried about the future survival of Gracehope, her hidden home beneath the ice of Greenland. The chapters featuring Peter get a solid reading by narrator Ackroyd, but his performance is eclipsed by Marlo's reading of Thea's story. Both she and Ackroyd switch to English accents for the dialogue spoken by Thea and her people, and Marlo makes the shifts between the American and English accents seem effortless. She endows the many women in Thea's matriarchal society with personality and especially excels at inhabiting Thea, adopting a youthful tone that matches the girl's hopeful attitude. Though First Light doesn't reach the excellence of Stead's second novel, the Newbery-winning When You Reach Me (rev. 7/09), this audio will nevertheless draw listeners in with its narrators' strong talent. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 May

Gr 5-8--Peter travels to Greenland with his parents, where his dad is conducting research on global warming in Rebecca Stead's first novel (Wendy Lamb Bks., 2007). Thea lives in a settlement below the ice in Greenland, where her ancestors came for refuge from persecution many generations earlier. Unbeknownst to Peter, his mother once belonged to this secret world, known as Gracehope. Peter's parents want to find this settlement to warn the residents that their community is sinking because of global warming. Thea, whose mother died trying to help her people, wants to carry on her mother's work of finding a way out of Gracehope. She and her friend Mattias discover a tunnel that leads to the surface, but Mattias is injured on the way. Peter, gifted with sight adeptness, finds them and helps Thea take her unconscious friend back down to Gracehope. Thea's grandmother, the leader of the settlement, is enraged that the pair ventured to the surface. The story, told in the alternating points of view of Thea and Peter, is narrated by Coleen Marlo and David Ackroyd. Their outstanding performance engages listeners, and they are both adept at creating a different voice for each character and moving seamlessly between them. A good discussion starter on a range of topics from political subterfuge and propaganda to global warming.--Kathy Miller, Baldwin Junior High School, Baldwin City, KS

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