Reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz but with a modern-day component, Ellen Dee Davidson’s Wind involves a natural disaster that sets a young girl on an imaginative course of discovery. Along the way she also learns the importance of family, friendships, and overcoming fears.
Offering an enticing blend of fantasy, mythology, and earth mysticism, this story begins when sixth grader Katie Noriega is tossed into another world after a tumultuous earthquake. Here she joins a strange, gnome-like being named Za. The colorful, purple-skinned creature is lost between planets and must complete a journey quest to return home.
The pair soon encounter a variety of characters, including a shapeshifting tree spirit and her companion lion; a baby dragon who sheds emerald tears; and a half-man/half-fish water inhabitant. Entanglements with some less friendly beings put these two adventurers in harm’s way. Ultimately, the evil forces threaten Katie and Za’s ability to connect with the ethereal Winged Ones meant to bring peace to the forest domain and help the travelers return home.
Davidson delivers an entertaining story with a forward-moving balance of action and dialogue. The latter often includes words of wisdom such as “Each day is a gift” to complement the idea of an interconnected ecosystem and the sentiment that if humans learn to heal themselves, they’ll also heal the earth.
From the dark geysering Poison One tar pit that voices the world’s greed and malevolence, to Katie’s encounter with a magical flying horse, the narrative artfully details a bevy of guides and forces within this natural landscape. Unfortunately, some sudden introductions of these elements feel jarring.
While the final chapter suggests it has all been a dream, an elemental detail smartly revives the fantasy and keeps readers wondering. While the story could benefit from a few transitional tweaks, middle-grade readers or those who enjoy visionary journeys weaving imagination and environmental issues with typical adolescent concerns will find Wind a creative and enjoyable effort.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.