cover image Hanne's Quest

Hanne's Quest

Olivier Dunrea, Author, Olivier Dunrea, Illustrator . Philomel

In this intriguing illustrated chapter book, Dunrea (The Trow-Wife's Treasure ; the Gossie & Friends series) whisks readers to the misty island village of Skara Bree (a.k.a. Skara Brae, ancient settlement on the west coast of Orkney, off northern Scotland) where Mem Pockets is in need of a miracle to save her farm from foreclosure. Mem, who spends her days doting on her fine Scaldy hens and taking their speckled eggs to market, is behind in taxes. She laments her desperate situation as she tends the brood, unwittingly stirring her feathered friends to action. Late at night, Old Pegotty, sage of the henwoodie, shares a tale of a Great Mystery that allows certain specially chosen hens (born on the New Moon) to lay three golden eggs—but only if they perform three dangerous tasks. Young Hanne fits the criteria and is entrusted with saving the farm via her brave quest, which takes her North to the fields, West to ancient ruins, then on to the sea and back again. Dunrea may well enchant readers with his blending of elements of mythology and fantasy in this unusual adventure. His evocative, velvety full-page and inset gouache paintings create a rural idyll touched by some mystical drama. Hanne, though sweet-natured and occasionally showing some pluck, may not be a compelling enough character to corral a flock of followers. However, Mem's bond with her is touching, and the feathered heroine also attracts an impressive group of fans to aid her on her quest, including a mole, a sea turtle and a boy who helps her get home. Ages 7-up. (Feb.)