Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Green Books Campaign: Riddle in the Mountain by Daryl Burkhard

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on the Eco-Libris website.

The book I chose, Riddle in The Mountain by Daryl Burkhard, is published by Dogtooth Books, an imprint of Nomad Press, which is a member of the Green Press Initiative. According to the copyright page, Nomad Press "contributes a percentage of its resources to non-profit organizations working on projects related to the topic of its books." The book is printed on recycled paper, and as part of the Green Press Initiative, the publisher must adhere to minimum standards for manufacturing. Other green features, according to the publisher, include black-and-white printing; the use of a printer, Friesens, with robust in-house environmental practices; and a minimal freight footprint because it was manufactured in North America, specifically Canada.

I think this campaign is important, especially for people like me who like the feel of a book in their hands and are a bit resistant to the emergence of e-readers. I love everything about printed books -- the smell, the texture, and how these differ for every book. But I struggle with the fact that books eat up paper, not to mention other aspects of the printing process that consume energy and other resources and create pollution. It's nice to know that many publishers are taking steps to make the process more eco-friendly, and it's important to look for these "green" books whenever possible.

Okay, now on to the book itself. Riddle in the Mountain is an engaging book for middle-grade readers that touches upon ghosts, time travel, and the Wild West. Burkhard tells the story of Kathy, a 12-year-old girl who hears whispers and learns that she has a gift that enables her to open the door to another world. Her family just moved to Boulder, Colorado, and she's afraid of the dark, so it's quite possible that the voices she hears are in her head. Her neighbor, Mrs. Acheson, however, recognizes Kathy's gift. After being teased by her 13-year-old brother, David, and his friend, Frank, the trio go on a late-night ghost hunt -- much to Kathy's dismay -- and meet a tommyknocker who lets them know that a door has been opened by the one with the gift and that the three of them must save the key and return it to its rightful place so he can go home to the mountains and the mines.

To accomplish this goal, he imprints a riddle in their minds, each of them with a different part of the riddle.  They find themselves transported to Boulder, Colorado, in 1879 without money, appropriate attire, or adult supervision. They have only the riddle and a desire to find the key, but of course, they must enjoy the hands-on history lesson. Who wouldn't?

On their journey, they meet Rocky Mountain Joe, who teaches Kathy a lot about life:
Kathy groaned.  "Not me," she said in a low tone so the boys wouldn't hear. "The dark scares me."

Rocky Mountain Joe tilted his head and gave a quizzical look from under his leather hat. "I reckon that's because you imagine bad things in the dark. Think of its beauty and wonders, instead: the call of the nighthawk in the fading sky; the roar of its wings as it dives for an evening meal; crickets calling back and forth; laughing coyotes as they sing their melodies; the hooting of the owl; or the brilliance of the stars and moon. Without the night and its cloak of darkness, we would miss these wonderful things."

"What about ghosts and goblins and -- well, other things?"

Joe laughed. "Can't say I've run into any of them. Leastwise, none that I can't handle," he added with a wink. (Pages 129-130)
Riddle in the Mountain is an action-packed adventure perfect for readers between the ages of 9 and 12, but I think adults could enjoy it, too; I found it to be an enjoyable read. Burkhard's descriptions of the Wild West bring the scenes to life, and illustrations by Frank Riccio only add to the book's charm. The characters seemed true to the period, and Kathy, David, and Frank were very real -- bickering and all! The mystery of the riddle and the tommyknocker who sent them on their journey grabbed my attention right away, and it was interesting to see how the children joined together, adapted to their new environment, and learned a lot about themselves along the way. I recommend Riddle in the Mountain if you're looking for a quick read that requires a little thinking but isn't overwhelming or if you have children fascinated by ghosts, gold mines, western pioneers, and time travel.  The book received an Independent Publishers Award.

More green information about Riddle in the Mountain: The book is 100% PCW (post-consumer waste), processed chlorine free.  The paper is 55-pound New Leaf EcoBook 100, natural antique.

To see the complete list of books being reviewed for the Green Books Campaign, click here.

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Riddle in the Mountain from Dogtooth Books/Nomad Press for review purposes.


Serena said...

This sounds like a cute little book, and its is full of stuff, including ghost stories! I'm glad that there are more books on the market with "green" material and practices behind them.

bermudaonion said...

I bet Vance would have loved this when he was younger. You know a book's good when one of the character's is named Kathy. LOL

Aarti said...

I'm enjoying these green reviews! I thought they were all environmental books, but it seems I was wrong. That's awesome the publishing industry is backing green practices :-)

Staci said...

Sounds like a fun read and supporting books that are green is a cool way to spend $$

Anna said...

~Serena: It was cute. I can't wait until The Girl reads it!

~bermudaonion: I thought about you when I was writing the review and typed the name!

~Aarti: At first I thought they'd be all environmental books, too, and I was thrilled when I saw a variety of topics.

~Staci: Definitely!

Melody said...

I'm intrigued with the story; it sounds so good!

I'm enjoying reading all the reviews for the Green Books Campaign!

Sandy Nawrot said...

OK, so I will say it again. Why was I not in on this green campaign? Where was I? I'm feeling rather left out right now, but I'm loving all the posts. I am a big library user, and e-reader user, so I know I'm doing my part!

Brimful Curiosities said...

Oh, I knew exactly what a tommyknocker is! I grew up near a Cornish mining settlement. Might have to mention this to the local librarians there. (Plus, I have added your review to my green campaign children's book list...missed the ones classified as YA)

The Bookworm said...

very cool campaign! it is nice tp know that publishers are going out of thier way to make books 'green'.

and Riddle in The Mountain sounds like fun!


Anonymous said...

Have you read To Nowhere and Back. It is a fantastic story written in the 1970s about a girl who can travel back in time to a family that lived on her family's property. It sounds like the books have some similar interesting qualities.

Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

I love the idea behind the Green Books Campaign. The book sounds fun too, one my daughter might like.

Kristen said...

This sounds like a good kid book. Wonder if my youngest would be interested in it. Love that environmentally sound practices are starting to become more prevalent in publishing, especially because, like you, I am a fan of physical books rather than e-readers.

Wanda said...

This sounds like a book my daughter would really enjoy, thanks for the review!

Alyce said...

Looks like you chose a very fun book for the green campaign! :)

Anna said...

~Melody: Hope you give this one a try!

~Sandy: I feel bad that you didn't know about the tour. Maybe they'll be another one next year.

~Brimful Curiosities: Thanks for adding my link! I'd heard of tommyknockers but didn't really know much about them until reading this book. Very interesting!

~Naida: It was a very fun book and much better than I'd expected.

~therubycanary: No, I haven't, but thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to check that one out.

~carolsnotebook: I think she would. Hope you give it a try.

~Kristen: I might be persuaded to use an e-reader if one just happened to fall into my lap. They're way out of my budget right now.

~Wanda: Hope you and your daughter give this one a try.

~Alyce: I'm so glad about that, as this one was my second choice and I wasn't sure about it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.