"Walking Mountain" by Joan Lennon as a fantastic book, in the most literal sense of the word, and it is a captivating one. Aimed at readers aged 12 and over, it transports the reader to a parallel world in which many elements are almost familiar, yet remain just out of reach. Initially at least, the central character is Pema, a young farmer's boy. The Mountain that towers above his home walks. Each year it moves a little further north, creating fresh fertile ground around its southern edge. Only something has changed. For the first time in living or folk memory, the Mountain has started to reverse its progress, moving south instead of north. The consequences seem likely to be catastrophic for the communities living along its southern edge and there has already been at least one death.
Pema is charged by his grandmother with the task of climbing the Mountain to seek help from the ancient order of Sisters, the White Women, who inhabit the Abbey near its summit. Everyone knows that the Mountain is the Sisters' responsibility. Pema must make the challenging two-day climb to the Abbey to alert the Sisters to what is happening at the Mountain's foot and ask them to restore the natural order of things: to return the Mountain to its steady northwards progress.
Having reached the Abbey, Pema finds himself confronted by an Abbess who is in denial about what is happening. But he also finds an ally. Singay is a young female novice who has herself been trying to warn the Abbess about strange changes in the Mountain. The problem is that Singay is on the verge of being ejected from the Abbey for views that are seen as heretical. Then Pema and Singay make a remarkable discovery and meet Rose, an alien who came to the planet eons earlier and who is responsible for driving the Mountain. It becomes clear that their only chance of restoring order to a world that seems on the verge of chaos is to embark on a long journey to the south with Rose, in an effort to reach the distant sea.
The epic quest that follows sees Pema, Singay and Rose tackling a series of challenges en route to their destination, with the relationship between Pema and feisty Singay growing stronger as they progress south. This is a book of great invention and marvellous ideas, and it is also a book about the things that drive all of us: about friendship, love and loss. It is perhaps inevitable that any book that can be described by the phrase "epic quest" evokes comparisons with "The Hobbit", and it's a comparison which is entirely justified in terms of the way the world Joan Lennon has created draws the reader in and keeps you completely enthralled. This is a great book we'd strongly recommend to the young reader or readers in your life.