Updated: Aug 5
A characteristic of great children's literature is that it also appeals to adults.Another is what G. K. Chesterton described when he said, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exit, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Andrew Peterson's The Wingfeather Saga has both of these qualities.
The Wingfeather Saga emphasizes the power of art. The saga focuses on three specific forms: word, form, and song, called THAGS (Time-Honored And Great Subjects) in the series' world of Aerwiar. Brothers Janner and Tink and their younger sister Leeli each excel in one of the three THAGS. The youngest of the three children, Leeli, is a seemingly frail girl dependent upon a crutch due to a twisted leg. Even so, Leeli's gift is music (“song”), and the power she wields through her gift reveals she is anything but frail.
The children encounter many forms of evil and use their gifts of art to defeat them all. Here, the message relayed to young readers is that evil does exist but that it “...can be beaten.”
In Aerwiar, evil entities Gnag the Nameless and his minions twist the good into the hideous. This is a mirroring of what Satan has done in our world from the beginning He, like Gnag The Nameless, is incapable of actually creating anything. Gnag can only violate the already-created, and only then if the created one is willing. There is always choice - another vital lesson for children as well as adult readers.
In the series, good and evil are each presented through, among other things, music. Good, through the music that Leeli sings or plays on her "whistleharp." Evil, through a song from The Keeper of the Stones, one of Gnag the Nameless' minions. When someone sings this song, they are transformed into something hideous. Retransformation is available, however, as it is in our world. Yet another valuable truth for the reader.
Author Andrew Peterson creates a world that is easy for the reader to become caught up in, heart and soul. My grandchildren have yet to read the series as they are still a bit too young. I, on the other hand, am about to begin Book 4 and I can't wait.