Welcome to my review of this debut middle-grade story from Melissa Studdard.
A curious mix of children’s fantasy stories, Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia and The Wizard of Oz, Melissa Studdard has crafted a lovely story perfect for middle-grade readers (or in this case, listeners).
Annalise is 11 and a dreamer, she loves to sing to the clouds and imagine herself in the stories her mother reads to her. Despite her very tender age, Annalise is grappling with the questions we all have: why are we here and what is our purpose. And she explores the question and gleans answers in the company of her two sheep friends, Mimi and Mabel.
Full of lessons and learning all brought gently to the forefront in a wild mix of characters and lovely prose that often is mixed with rhyme and song, Annalise is learning and exploring those parts of life that lie deep within, and aren’t always visible. Heavily laden with lessons that are intrinsic components of the thoughtful life; touching on themes that range from self-determination, choice, love, family and the circular nature of life and the interconnectedness of all beings. While the concepts are deep and still can confuse and confound adults, Studdard presents the building blocks of initial thought with grace and clever imagery that will enchant younger readers as they travel along Annalise’s journey.
Narration in this story is provided by Karen Krause who deftly manages to add nuanced inflections, subtle tone and pacing changes and a smile in much of her delivery that makes the listen intriguing and entertaining. I love her voice and clear delivery, not too fast or slow with moments taken to just wonder at the lovely word pictures that Studdard has created.
Unlike any other stories I have reviewed, this story is fun and intriguing while carrying what is ultimately a life-altering decision at the end: Annalise is a wonderfully developed character with a thoughtful and imaginative interior life, never losing that wonder and curiosity of a child even as many of her reflections and conclusions are solidly old soul.
This book stays with you for the sheer beauty of the writing and world, and the messages within, giving both children and adults an experience that leaves them richer for the listen.
I received an AudioBook copy of the title from the narrator for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Overall: Stars: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4
Title: Six Weeks to Yehidah
Author: Melissa Studdard
Genre: Children's Literature
Narrator: Karen Krause
Published by: Self-Produced
Published on: 1 August, 2011
Audio Length: 4 Hours: 57 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo
"The thing you would notice most was the rain, how the rain fell and fell and never seemed to stop. The sky was constantly swollen with it, then birthing it, swollen, then birthing again, and the hills, like greedy babies, suckled up all that rain. They shone and glistened green as the backs of frogs on bright green lily pads.
Annalise was ten then, old enough that she’d begun thinking about grown up things, like picking her own clothes out for school, yet young enough, still, to indulge in fanciful imaginings of enchanted trees and talking hills. Her best friends were the clouds that canopied her village and the verdant hills that hosted her most precious and outrageous dreams."
As spunky young Annalise travels from one adventure to another, she learns ancient wisdom traditions and gains deeper and deeper insight into herself and her world. Eventually she must make the most important decision she's ever faced -- whether or not to return to the self she has always known.