The Hoppernots deliver an unforgettable adventure about friendship, strange alliances, and community.
When frightened Elders announce a Hoppernot sighting, Max, Cristobel, and Spyder think they know exactly what to do. With a nose for adventure--and because the Elders are all talk and no hop--they sneak off to find out if the legendary creatures are real and discover Hoppernots not only exist, but they are destroying their home.
The adventure begins when the mischievous trio issues a call to action to drive the dangerous creatures away from their beloved home. Along the way, they discover a secret weapon, an unlikely alliance, and they must find a way to make the Elders forget their troublemaking past and trust them enough to follow them into a battle of survival and fight for the lake they call home or risk losing it...and their lives.
Debut author Deborah Blake Dempsey weaves a fantastical tale for readers still young enough to been chanted by woodland dwellers and for older readers who secretly believe in the magic and madness of the forest.
Deborah Blake Dempsey
Pug Paw Press (252 pp.)
$10.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-0990481201; August 5, 2014
Three young, plucky frogs help save the day in Dempsey’s debut for middle-grade readers.
Life is tranquil at Lake Fibian for the Anura, the frog nation, who gather monthly on Luna Light Night “to celebrate the
unity of the lake.” Three young frog friends, known for their troublemaking as “The Three,” enjoy many adventures
around the lake. Max is the most daring of The Three, while Spyder is more cautious (and a voracious eater), and
Cristobel excels at figuring things out. Life hasn’t always been so idyllic, though. According to the “Croaklore,” the lake
was once invaded by a creature called a Hoppernot, which walked on two legs, spoke an incomprehensible language, and
snatched fish out of the lake without warning. After the Hoppernot departed, all the species made a pact to cooperate.
Now the Hoppernots have returned, threatening the peace. The Three discover that the Hoppernots are destroying the
animals’ summer resort, a long-abandoned house. Cristobel also finds that she can understand their language. Using this
knowledge, The Three mobilize the animals to use their strengths to scare the Hoppernots away. The story is told from a
frog’s-eye view, presenting common items such as cars and baseball caps from a frog’s perspective. Even the language
has been modified as frog-speak: “They’re too afraid of getting tadnapped and taken away.” Animal lovers will enjoy
fun facts neatly incorporated into the plot; for example, a flock of crows is called a murder. In the beginning, the history
of the animals’ pact almost overwhelms with detail, and it takes a while for the action to get going. Once it does, though,
the story moves at a quick pace, with only a couple of delays for out-of-place flashbacks. Some minor punctuation and
grammatical errors, as well as incorrect word choices (“after so much time had past”), may be especially confusing for
an audience new to reading. However, well-developed characters, an exciting climax, and a strong theme of working
together make this an appealing story.
A fun adventure for animal-loving young readers.
The Hoppernots by Deborah Blake Dempsey is a nature-themed adventure tale for children primarily in the Middle Grade area of reading. Almost reaching the length of a full adult novel, the story centers around three young frogs by the names of Cristobel, Max and (perhaps confusingly) Spyder, who stumble upon an invasion of large biped creatures who are destroying their precious living habitat. These creatures, known to frog-kind as Hoppernots, pose a terrifying threat to the three plucky youngsters, who decide, despite their fears, to try to rid their homeland of the gargantuan beasts. The result is an exciting adventure for readers aged 8 and beyond.
Throughout reading The Hoppernots, I kept returning to one simple thought: this is Watership Down with frogs. And I do not mean that in a negative way, for author Deborah Blake Dempsey has managed to recreate the long-sought classic feel of authentic children’s literature, reinvented to a new and imaginative level at a beautiful woodland lake, whilst also tackling the valuable lesson of preserving natural environments in the modern world. For younger readers, I feel it might be necessary to read along with an adult in order to fully absorb Dempsey’s beautiful prose, but I for one am delighted to see a writer who isn’t afraid to credit young readers with the intelligence to enjoy a complex and well-told story. The three central characters are perfectly likeable and enthralling for readers in the Middle Grade age area, but I feel it is the overall themes and lavish woodland settings that convey the real magic at work.
A Cybil Award Nominee, 2014
A New England Book Festival Awards Honorble Mention for The Hoppernots, 2014