February 14, 2009

Review: Rock Jaw by Jeff Smith

Rock Jaw: Master of the Eastern Border is the fifth volume in Smith's Bone series. The review assumes that you've read the first four volumes. If you haven't you, may want to skip to my thoughts.

My Summary: Smiley has befriended a baby rat creature, and he and Fone Bone decide to take it into the mountains to return it to its own kind. Along the way, The Bones meet up with the rat creature couple who have been plaguing Fone since he first stepped foot into the valley.

Just when they think they've gotten the creatures off their trail, the Bones come face to face with Rock Jaw, a giant mountain lion, who wants to know whose side they're on. Fone tries to explain that they are strangers and have no other goal than to return the rat cub, but Rock Jaw tells them "The valley is divided in two . . . Everyone must choose a side." Eventually, the Bones have rat creatures, Rock Jaw, and even the locust after them. And to make matters more complicated, Fone and Smiley find themselves in charge of a number of orphaned baby animals. Fone has to find a way to keep everyone safe.

My Thoughts: In this middle volume of the series, Fone and Smiley meet Rock Jaw, a giant lion who lives in the east. The story takes a philosophical bent, and the lines between good and evil begin to blur. Rock Jaw wonders exactly how those concepts are defined and tells Fone and his friends, "There is no good or evil . . . only nature. And in nature, the only thing that matters is power." Is that true? Even the young animals have their opinions.

The drawings continue to amaze, while the story deepens. The humor is still there, but broader moral questions are moving into the spotlight. The age range for Bone is nine to twelve, but there is plenty to hold the attention of adult readers. As always, the story ends with "To be continued . . ."

Cross-posted on my blog Beth Fish Reads.

Published by Scholastic, 2007
ISBN-13: 9780439706360
Rating: A

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