This book is one of my favorite tales. The heroine is a woman named Harry Crewe, an orphan, that comes to live near her brother in the desert country of Damar. Her life is quiet and ordinary until she is kidnapped by Corlath, the Hill King, who takes her deep into the desert to the land of his people. She is alone surrounded by people who do not speak her language and she has no idea why she was kidnapped being herself to be truly ordinary and dull. However, everything happens for a reason and Corlath has Harry trained in the arts of fighting and war until she can pass for any of the Hillfolk. Why have her trained? Why kidnap her at all? What is all this leading to? What is in store for Harry?
I won't give away the reasons or ending but I encourage you to read it for yourself if you have not already. Robin McKinley truly brings this wonderful world alive and you find yourself getting lost and never wanting to come back. This Newbery Honor book is perfect for older grades. It would be a good book to get the students curious and involved in heavier topics. This unit study would have to come with a twist though and I would make it more about diversity and what would they do about living in a foreign country where no one spoke their language.
Reading Level: 4th grade and up