In the sixth grade, Tamora Pierce was encouraged by her father to start writing and she immediately got hooked. Once she discovered fantasy and science fiction, she tried to write the same kind of stories she read, only with teenaged girl heroines who were usually missing from the 1960s stories. Before her junior year at the University of Pennsylvania where she studied psychology, Pierce rediscovered writing when she wrote her first original short story since tenth grade. She sold her first story a year later and then enrolled in a fiction writing course during her senior year. When her teacher suggested that she tackle a novel, her childhood ideas came back to her and she began her first sword and sorcery novel. Pierce then worked as a housemother in an Idaho group home for teenaged girls, who loved hearing Alanna's story from the in-progress quartet, Song of the Lioness. As Pierce continued to write and send out manuscripts, she moved to Manhattan to get her publishing career off the ground. Pierce still lives in Manhattan with her husband, writer/filmmaker Tim, and their three cats, two parakeets, plus a floating population of rescued wildlife. She enjoys her hectic life as a full-time writer and she hopes that her books leave her readers with the feeling that they can achieve anything if they want it badly enough. Tamora Pierce is a popular author of fantasy books for teenagers. In her latest quartet, Protector of the Small, readers follow heroine Kel as she rigorously trains for the knighthood.
Gr 5-8-Set in the imaginary kingdom of Tortall, 10-year-old Keladry has applied for training to become a knight of the court of King Jonathan. Looking to Alanna the Lioness (from Pierce's The Lioness Quartet) for inspiration, Kel must fight her way through her first year of knight training as a page. She's faced not only with the hostility of the master trainer, Lord Wyldon, but also the fellow pages who oppose a girl being allowed into the program. Trained as a child by stolid Yamani warriors, Kel is capable of hiding her feelings from her peers as she courageously develops her skills. Her empathy for the other lowly first year pages earn her their friendship and trust. Youngsters will be drawn to Tamora Pierce's first book in the series (Random, 1999) which features a strong female character who stands up to bullies, a magical connection with the sparrows in the courtyard, a cranky horse named Peachblossom, and a fantasy element with dangerous creatures. Bernadette Dunne's narration perfectly captures the wide assortment of characters. Her depiction of Kel helps listeners feel her pain and frustration as well as the joy she finds in her relationship with the other first year pages, the sparrows, and her horse.-Beverly S. Almond, Moore Square Museums Magnet Middle School, Raleigh, NC Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.