Move over, C.S. Lewis; Melissa Studdard is here! Annalise of the Verdant Hills is one of the most delightful protagonists to skip through the pages of literature since Dorothy landed in Oz. Join Annalise and her two walking, talking wondersheep as they travel to ever more outlandish places and meet outrageous and enlightening folk on their journey to discover interconnectedness in a seemingly disconnected world. Discover with them how just one person can be the start of the change we all strive for. A book for all ages, for all time: wonderful, wacky, and bursting with truth!
Six Weeks to Yehidah, Melissa Studdard's delightful debut novel, is one of the more metaphysical children's stories you will ever read. Bridging imaginary worlds of talking sheep, cloud kingdoms, magic labyrinths and spirit guides, "Yehida" comes to life in a kaleidoscopic array of color, sound and light.
Listeners young and old alike will be transported via the sentient observations of main character Annalise as she experiences the transcendental metamorphosis of spiritual awareness.
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AudioBook Review: Overall: Stars: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4
Overall: Stars: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4
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.