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  • The Ropemaker
  • Written by Peter Dickinson
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780385730631
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  • The Ropemaker
  • Written by Peter Dickinson
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307433992
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The Ropemaker

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Written by Peter DickinsonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Peter Dickinson

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List Price: $8.99

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On Sale: December 18, 2007
Pages: 384 | ISBN: 978-0-307-43399-2
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
The Ropemaker Cover

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
Tags for this book (powered by Library Thing)
fantasy (91) fiction (31) magic (19) young adult (18) ya (13) adventure (5) children's (4) children's fiction (4)
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Tilja has grown up in the peaceful Valley, which is protected from the fearsome Empire by an enchanted forest. But the forest’s power has begun to fade and the Valley is in danger. Tilja is the youngest of four brave souls who venture into the Empire together to find the mysterious magician who can save the Valley. And much to her amazement, Tilja gradually learns that only she, an ordinary girl with no magical powers, has the ability to protect her group and their quest from the Empire’s sorcerers.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

1

The Forest

It had snowed in the night. Tilja knew this before she woke, and waking she remembered how she knew. Somewhere between dream and dream a hand had shaken her shoulder and she'd heard Ma's whisper.

"It's snowing at last. I must go and sing to the cedars. You'll have to make the breakfast before you feed the hens."

Tilja reached up to the shelf beyond the bolster and pulled her folded underclothes in under the quilt, where she spread them along beside her body to warm through. While they did so she lay and listened to the wind hooting in the chimney above her. Anja, beside her, grumbled in her sleep, clutching at her share of the quilt while Tilja wriggled out of her nightshirt and into the underclothes. Then she slid out and hurried into another layer of clothing, tucked Anja snugly in and finished dressing.

The bed was a boxlike structure set right into the immense old fireplace, on one side of the stove. Her parents slept in a larger box on the far side, but that would be empty by now, with Da in the byre seeing to the animals, and Ma on her way to the cedar lake, far into the forest.

Faint light seeped through the shutters, but she didn't open them, and not just because of the savage wind that was battering against them and shrieking into their cracks. She liked to do these first tasks in the dark, knowing without having to feel around exactly where to put her hand for anything she needed. Woodbourne was her home, and this kitchen was the heart of it, as familiar to her as her own body. She had no more need to see to find things than she had to put her finger to the tip of her nose. Relighting the stove in the dark was a way of starting the day by telling herself that this was so.

First, she opened the firebox and carefully riddled out the old ash, leaving just the last black embers, flecked with sparks. Onto these she spread a double handful of straw and another of dry twigs, then closed the fire door, opened both dampers, and stood leaning against the still-warm stove while she repeated the fire charm three times. Ma never bothered with the fire charm, but Tilja's grandmother, Meena, had taught it to her so that she would know how long to wait for the twigs to be well alight before she added the coarser kindling. Usually it took four times, but three would be enough with a wind like this to drag the draft up.

A wind like this? And snowing? That wasn't right.

Once the kindling was in, and had caught, she slid in four logs, sawn and split to fit the stove and dried all summer in an open shed. The flames began to roar into the flues. Now at last she poked a taper in and used it to light the lamp, poured water into a pan and set it to boil, heaved the porridge pot out of the oven where it had been quietly cooking all night in the remaining heat from the old fire, stirred in a little water and set it beside the water pan to warm through.

Next she finished getting up. She rinsed her face and hands, combed and bunched her hair and slipped into her boots, leaving the laces loose, and opened the door into the yard. At once the wind flung a gust of snow into her face, stinging as if it had been a handful of fine gravel. Brando was out of sight, cowering in his kennel from the storm.

This is all wrong, she thought again as she clumped across to the outhouse. The first snow in the Valley should have fallen a month ago, on a still night, huge soft flakes floating steadily down, blanketing yard and roofs and fields a foot deep by morning. These furious flurries weren't snow. And nothing was really lying. Any flakes that reached the ground were snatched up by the wind and whirled into drifts in the corners of the yard. When a gust hurtled in from another direction it would catch at these and set them streaming away like smoke.

Worse still, checking by touch in the dark of the outhouse, she found that some of the stuff had found its way in through a crack and made a miniature drift across the seat. With freezing fingers she scooped it away, did what she had to and clumped back in a foul temper to the kitchen. She half thought of sending Anja out with a storm lantern to clear the outhouse and block the crack before Da got back, but in the end she did it herself.

By the time he came in she had the porridge hot and the sage tea brewed and the bacon frying, and Anja was up and dressed and clean.

"Stupid sort of snow we've got this year," he muttered. "I hope your mother's all right."

"Where's Ma gone?" said Anja, through porridge.

"She's gone to the lake to sing to the cedars," said Tilja. "She'll be home to cook your dinner."


From the Hardcover edition.
Peter Dickinson

About Peter Dickinson

Peter Dickinson - The Ropemaker

Photo © Fay Godwin

“What it has felt like to be writing for the young during the last thirty years. . . . can all be summarised in one word—Lucky. I feel extraordinarily fortunate in a whole number of ways.”—Peter Dickinson

Peter Dickinson, two-time winner both of England’s prestigious Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children’s Award, is one of Britain’s greatest storytellers, and the author of many novels for young readers and adults. His books include the Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Novel, Eva, as well as the Printz Honor Book The Ropemaker and many other award-winning titles.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Dickinson is a tall, elderly, bony, beaky, wrinkled sort of fellow, with a lot of untidy grey hair and a weird hooting voice—in fact he looks and sounds a bit like Gandalf’s crazy twin, but he’s only rather absent-minded, probably because he’s thinking about something else. Day-dreaming, mostly.

He was born in the middle of Africa, within earshot of the Victoria Falls. Baboons sometimes came into the school playground. When people went swimming in the Zambezi they did it in a big wooden cage let down into the water, so that the crocs couldn’t get at them. For the hot weather the family went south to his grandfather’s ostrich farm in South Africa.

Then the family came back to England so that he and his brothers could go to English schools, where they taught him mostly Latin and Greek. He didn’t have an English lesson after he was twelve, and nobody ever told him to write a story. He was fairly good at games.

He’s led an ordinary kind of life—not much by way of adventures, but some silly things. Such as? Well, when he had to join the army, just after World War II, they managed to turn him into two people; so he was bashing away at infantry training at a camp in Northern Ireland when two sea-sick military policemen showed up and arrested him for being a deserter from a different camp in the south of England, where his other self was supposed to be bashing away.

He was tutoring a boy in a huge old castle in Scotland when the butler (it was that sort of household) said to him at dinner one day “Ah, sir, it’s a long time since we heard screams coming from the West Wing!” (Peter’s screams, not the boy’s.)

And he was knocked down by a tram on his way to the interview for his first job and arrived all covered with blood and dirt, but they gave him the job because he was the only candidate. He stayed there seventeen years.

He and his first wife had two daughters and two sons, and he now has six grandchildren. He lives in a ramshackle old house in a green valley in the south of England, with his second wife, the American writer Robin McKinley, and three whippets. Now, they really are crazy.

On Writing

Peter says he didn’t become a writer. He just is one, and always has been, ever since he can remember, the way a goldfish is a goldfish and can’t be anything else. Go to a zoo and look at one of the big birds, a condor, say, a creature made to soar above the Andes. They’ve probably clipped one of its wings so that it can’t hurt itself trying to fly around its cage, but it’s still a creature made to soar above the Andes. If you somehow stopped Peter writing, he’d still be a writer.

But he was a poet and a journalist before he started on books. He tried a murder story first, but got stuck half way through. Then he had a science-fictiony kind of nightmare, and decided to turn it into a children’s story, mainly to see if writing it would unstick the other book. (It did. That book won a prize for the best murder story of the year, and the children’s book is now being made into a TV film, though it was written over thirty years ago.)

Since then he’s written getting on fifty books, almost all of them on a little old portable typewriter—one draft, to see what he’s got, and what else he needs to know and so on; then a bit of research; then a complete rewrite, beginning to end; and then, if all’s well, only a bit more tinkering. Sometimes it takes a few month, sometimes a year or more. He’s just moved over to a PC. He’s still getting used it. It makes writing seem a very different kind of process—easier in some ways, harder in others.

The ideas come from all over the place—day-dreams, sometimes, or a kid on a long car-trip saying “Tell us a new story, dad.” Or something he’s heard or read—a voice on the radio saying “Even a hardened government soldier may hesitate a fatal half-second before he guns down a child.” (That was AK, about a boy guerrilla in Africa.) For the best of them it feels as if the book had knocked on the door of his mind and said “Write me.” Then he’ll spend half a year or more letting the stranger in and finding who or what it is.

He writes all sorts of books. His last book was a long exotic fantasy—magicians and unicorns and so on—called The Ropemaker, and in May there’s going to be his first collaboration with his wife, Robin McKinley, called Water; Tales of the Elemental Spirits, in which each of them has written three stories about some of the magical creatures that inhabit our rivers and seas. (They hope to do the other three elements over the next few years.) A story Peter was working on for the Fire volume insisted on expanding to book length (working title The Tears of the Salamander) which will be his next book out. And he’s now working on a short book called Inside Grandad, about a modern boy who . . . but no, he’d better find out who the stranger is before he starts talking about him.


PRAISE

“Peter Dickinson is one of the real masters of children’s literature.”—Philip Pullman

THE ROPEMAKER
“A challenging magical adventure for the thinking reader.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“While on one level this tale is a fantasy, it is also a wonderful coming-of-age story.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“Dickinson works his own magic in a thoroughly compelling tale that delves into the nature of both magic and time.”—Starred, Booklist
Praise | Awards

Praise

“A challenging magical adventure for the thinking reader.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred

“While on one level this tale is a fantasy, it is also a wonderful coming-of-age story.”—School Library Journal, Starred

“Dickinson works his own magic in a thoroughly compelling tale that delves into the nature of both magic and time.”—Booklist, Starred

Awards

WINNER 2002 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
WINNER 2002 ALA Notable Children's Book
WINNER 2003 Kentucky Bluegrass Master List

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