The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic

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Today is the official release day for The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, by a friend of the Rabbit Room, Jennifer Trafton. A few quick reasons you should buy this book:

1) For starters, that’s a great title. Go ahead. Say it aloud to yourself. There’s rhythm, alliteration, and it evokes a sense of strange, adventurous beauty. You may think I’m overstating my case, but that’s the best way I know to describe how I felt when I first laid eyes on this book.

screen-shot-2010-12-02-at-13437-am2) The artwork! I’m a bit of a nerd about book illustration. Some of you know I’m a big fan of Justin Gerard, Cory Godbey, Chris Koelle, and a lot of what Portland Studios produces. I love a picture that tells a story. Well, now that my son Aedan is into illustration too, the two of us peruse the websites of Tony DiTerlizzi (The Spiderwick Chronicles), Adam Rex (Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich), and the great Brett Helquist (Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events) to study their techniques and to geek out over cool pictures. As soon as I saw Mount Majestic I recognized Brett Helquist’s beautiful work on the cover and was delighted to discover illustrations in every chapter. Cool illustrations, too. Drawings of creepy, violent turtles, knights, weird elfish creatures, and an ornery-looking boy king. That Brett Helquist illustrated this book is what we in the book business call a Big Deal. It must have been expensive to secure his services, and the publisher must have believed a lot in the book to have hired him.

3) Jennifer Trafton. She came to Hutchmoot 2010 and chopped celery with my wife and Evie Coates in the kitchen. That makes her awesome.

4) The story and the writing are superb. This is the biggest one for me. Lots of books have great covers, great titles, and are written by people who occasionally chop celery, but they aren’t well written or rich in beauty. But Mount Majestic is both of those things. Jennifer’s sentences are playful and deft, and it’s clear that she cares about words. She cares about the sound of them and the aesthetic of a sentence. I read somewhere that Annie Dillard said she wasn’t interested in writing good books, but good sentences, and I think there’s something to that. My favorite writers aren’t just the ones that are telling the truth, but the ones who are telling it beautifully.

5) She makes up names like “Guafnoggle” and dreams up walking mangroves and underground kingdoms, and, yes, poisonous turtles. The story is about Persimmony Smudge’s discovery of a giant asleep under the kingdom, and her desperate struggle to keep it asleep lest it wake and destroy everything. It reads like a modern day fairy tale, so it felt familiar. But right up to the last chapter I had no idea how the book would end. The book is thick with wonder, from the illustrations to the cover and dustjacket, to the moment when Persimmony first sees the sleeping giant.

It’s a great story for read-aloud, for your 8-and-up kids, and even for the grownups. I loved it as much as my 12-year-old did. So thanks, Jennifer, for following your nose and writing a moving, memorable tale. Oh! And congratulations, from the Rabbit Room, on your book release. day. Pick up your copy here.

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


28 Comments

  1. JJ

    I was so excited to win a copy from her Good Reads contest. It came on Monday and I started reading it last night. I’m about 60 pages in and loving it. I like how you describe her writing. It really feels like she crafted each sentence carefully. The characters are endearing (even the bratty boy king). I imagine I’ll fly through this one in a few sittings, it’s that fun to read. A review will definitely follow shortly after.

  2. kim watkins

    Jennifer, it was great meeting you at lunch last weekend in Nashville! Am excited to read your book & Pete’s books during my Christmas vacation.

  3. LauraP

    I hope by now Pete has printed a sheet of labels with my shipping address to keep handy for my frequent Rabbit Room orders. There is just such incredibly great art available here — how can I possibly resist such beauty?

    I read the first chapter of this book online and have been anxiously awaiting its release ever since. Another trip to the post office for you, Mr. Peterson. Feed my addiction.

  4. Dan Foster

    So, in 2010 alone, I’ve read the following books either written or recommended by Rabbit Roomers:

    MacDonald – Princess and the Goblin
    Wangerin – Book of the Dun Cow
    Wangerin – Saint Julian
    An. Peterson – North or Be Eaten (working on it with my wife)
    A.S. Peterson – Fiddler’s Gun
    Rogers – Bark of the Bog Owl
    Wilson – 100 Cupboards (reading right now)

    There definitely seems to be a bent towards fantasy, (perhaps there’s something to that, but I’ll leave it for another time).

    Number of times I’ve been disappointed with the above selections: zero (and most I very much enjoyed, though to be honest, Saint Julian didn’t move me the way it seemed to appeal to other Rabbit Roomers)

    Given this track record, the Rabbit Room is either finally due to get one wrong, or, much more likely, I have very high odds of enjoying this one as well. And I never even considered myself a fantasy-type (though I always loved Narnia, maybe that should have been a tip-off).

    How full is my Christmas list?

  5. Fellow Traveler

    I think not all fantasy is created equal, but The Princess and the Goblin is outstanding. In my opinion, MacDonald’s children’s literature was even better than his more “serious” works like Phantastes.

    What about historical fiction though? There’s some great stuff out there. Anybody here read The White Company, by Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame?

  6. JJ

    @Dan: I agree with the recommendations. I believe it was a post from AP that got me interested in N.D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards series. I flew through book 1 and promptly got book 2 (then pre-ordered book 3). I became an N.D. fan for life.

    The RR also introduced me to Jonathan Rogers. The Wilderking Trilogy made me a Jonathan Rogers fan (for life of course).

    And of course AP’s own books and Pete’s Fiddler’s Gun/Green series. Excellent all around.

    I have the two Wangerin books you mentioned but haven’t read them yet. I need to bump them up my list.

    I’m very thankful for the Rabbit Room.

  7. Kristen Anna

    This looks fantastic – I just placed my order!

    The RR has introduced me to so many great authors, artists, musicians, bloggers and more. Thank you, Rabbit Room : )

  8. Dustin

    While I have yet to read Wangerin’s Book of the Dun Cow (or Sorrows for that matter) I read Ragman and Other Cries of Faith and couldn’t stop. Except that I had to stop. I could only handle one story a day because each one made my mind too heavy with thought.
    Then I bought his books dealing with meditations on the Lent and Advent seasons. I got through Lent, and I highly recommend that one. I’m assuming Advent to be the same.

  9. Lanier Ivester

    Congratulations, Jennifer!! 🙂 We are so excited–I pre-ordered two copies weeks ago: one for us and one for our niece for Christmas. 🙂 And we prayed for you this morning, that this illustrious day would be blessed!! I can’t wait to hold your beautiful book in my hands, friend!

  10. Laura Peterson

    Uh-oh….the book seems to have gone AWOL from the store. Will it be making a reappearance soon??

  11. Sondorik

    The first chapter of TR&FO Mount Majestic whetted my appetite for more! A very whimsical, thought-provoking story. So looking forward to getting a hand signed copy. Even though the thought of fame makes Jennifer shake in her boots, it’s exciting to think where this book will take her and Persimmony! 🙂 Cheers!

    PS: The link to the product page appears to be broken…

  12. Rachel Edgar

    Well I have to say I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for FOREVER!!! Jen is my cousin, and I’ve watched on the sidelines as she has worked so hard to make her dream a reality. I’ve just read the first chapter (available online at http://www.jennifertrafton.com/for-kids/) to my sons, 8 and 10 years, and we had so much fun!! I can’t wait till I can hold my copy in my hand and finish this store!

  13. Laura Peterson

    My copy arrived today…I’m excited to read it, and may I say, I LOVE the RR stamp on the first page. Genius.

  14. Becca

    Our eleven-year old daughter received this as a Christmas present. I wish you could have heard her giggle and shout to her brother, “GUESS what the main character’s name is? Persimmony Smudge!! This book is going to be amazing. I can tell already.”

    And yes, she absolutely LOVED it. ‘Devoured the whole thing today. I couldn’t get her to budge until she was done. Now she is requesting book #2, please. 🙂

    Thanks so much for your great work! I have a happy little girl tonight.

  15. JenniferT

    Becca, that is the BEST Christmas present you could have given me. 🙂 I am tickled to pieces your daughter loved it so much. She is obviously an extremely bright young woman of excellent taste and will probably be a president or queen someday.

  16. Becca

    Hahahahahaha. I read your comment to her (as she was sitting at our dining room table gracefully blasting her father point blank with Nerf gun bullets, mind you). A huge smile swept across her face, and she said, “Now THAT’s a woman after my heart.”

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