EMWF Kids Reads

The Barren Grounds: Book One of the Misewa Saga
Written by David A. Robertson
Published by Penguin Random House

A book review by Hannah (13), James (9.5) and Landen (11)!


Welcome Hannah, James and Landen! What is this book about?

Hannah: The Barren Grounds is a novel about two foster children named Morgan and Eli who travel through a portal in one of Eli’s drawings. It takes them into a different world called Askí. Askí is frozen in an eternal winter because a human has taken away the Summer Birds. Morgan and Eli go on a quest with a fisher called Ochek, who is a talking animal, to bring back the Summer Birds and end winter.

James: The book The Barren Grounds is about two First Nations children named Morgan and Eli who are foster children. One day Eli gets a new drawing pad and Eli somehow teleports the children to a different reality through her pad. In this reality the people are animals who can talk and live in eternal winter so Morgen and Eli try to bring back “the green time”. Can they make it before this mysterious land freezes forever? Read this book to find out!

Landen: The Barren Grounds is about two Indigenous foster children named Eli and Morgan who find themselves in a village called Misewa.

They discover that this village is not just an ordinary village, it is filled with animal people!

They meet a Fisher there called Ochek who tells them that in the past, another human had come to Misewa and lived with them for a few years.

That human was greedy and wanted more than what he had so he took the Green Time of flourishing flowers and galloping game then gave the citizens of Misewa the White Time which was an endless winter.

What do you like about this book?

Hannah: I liked that the book took place in a different world, with different species of animals, and that a lot of it was based off of Indigenous stories. I also like how it combined fantasy and history, like when Morgan was learning the Indigenous names of the talking animals and places in Askí. The fact that Morgan enjoyed reading fantasy novels made the story more interesting because she was comparing her time in Askí to the books she had read.

James: I liked when the squirrel was super sassy.

Landen: I found this story to be an interesting and eye opening read.

What's your favourite part of the story, and why?

Hannah: My favorite part of the story was when they met Arik, who is a talking squirrel. This was my favorite part because Arik had a sense of humor, so she made the story more fun to read. Arik was also a bit sarcastic, and it was funny that she always seemed to get what she wanted by annoying people to the point that they gave up arguing with her.

James: My favourite part of this book was when the birds of summer were released because it was so vivid.

Why should other kids read this book?

Hannah: I think other kids should read this book because it teaches you a lot about things like how the Indigenous people hunted and lived. The novel is very suspenseful, so you always want to keep reading. The book also introduces you to words from the Cree language, like kiskisitotaso, which means ‘Don’t forget who you are’ or ‘Don’t forget yourself’, and it was cool to learn words in another language.

James: I think kids should like this book because it has action, adventure and loads of talking animals rolled in to one!

Who would you recommend this book to?

Hannah: I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy, adventure, or action books, because this book has all of those elements. I think people who enjoy books where people travel to other worlds would want to read this book, because Morgan and Eli discover the world of Askí. People who like learning in a fun way would also enjoy this story.

James: I recommend this book to ages 7+.

Landen: This book may be appealing to those who enjoy adventure, Indigenous reference and fiction.

If you could ask the author a question, what would it be?

Hannah: What gave you the inspiration to make the characters personalities how they are?

James: How did you come up with such an awesome story idea?

Thank you Hannah, James and Landen!