Joni Sensel writes books for young readers, but her novels all include an adult character who forges a strong relationship with the younger protagonist.
“I’m interested in the relationships that can develop between kids and adults who are not their parents or teachers,” she says. “I think it’s an interesting way to explore the concepts of independence, friendship, age, and what it means to grow up, which are important issues for the young readers I write for.”
These themes are prominent in her latest book, The Farwalker’s Quest, a fantasy/adventure for ages 9 and up. Ariel, nearly 13, is about to embark on an apprenticeship that will shape her identity. Her choices seem dull. If only she had her best friend’s talent for speaking with trees! Then Ariel finds an old relic that sweeps her and Zeke on a perilous journey with little more than their instincts and a ghost to guide them. Soon Ariel must match wits with a mysterious vagabond. If she’s clever enough to solve a riddle from the past, she can also reveal a long-hidden treasure and take up her true calling.
Kirkus Reviews called this book an “absorbing fantasy” with “crisp dialogue, an exciting plot, and strong secondary characters,” while The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books said, “The book is at once elegant and lyrical, while also offering an intensely paced and action-driven plot.” It’s been compared with The Edge Chronicles and The Sea of Trolls, but with a girl as the primary protagonist. Read the first chapter at www.jonisensel.com/FarwalkerChap1.pdf. The website also provides more information about Joni, who lives in the foothills of Mt. Rainier in Washington State with a dog who climbs trees after squirrels.
The Farwalker’s Quest
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: Feb. 17, 2009
Ages 9-12, 384 pages
Other books by Joni:
- The Humming of Numbers (Henry Holt, 2008), an historical fantasy and Junior Library Guild Selection for readers aged 12 and up
- Reality Leak (Henry Holt, 2007), a wacky mystery that appeals particularly to boys aged 8 to 12
- Bears Barge In (Dream Factory Books, 2001), an award-winning picture book about getting along with neighborhood wildlife. For children ages 4-8.