Orpheus Rising: By Sam And His Father John/With Some Help From A Very Wise Elephant/Who Likes To Dance

(Author) (Illustrator)
Product Details
$29.50  $27.44
Lwl Books
Publish Date
6.0 X 9.0 X 0.75 inches | 1.26 pounds

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About the Author
My poems, stories and articles have appeared widely in both American and English journals. Books of poetry include Wrestling With The Angel (1990), Becoming Human (2001), Human/Nature (2006), Seasons of Defiance (2010), which placed as a finalist in the 8th. National USA Book Awards, Transformations combining art and poetry (2013), and Homecomings (2015). Elemental Natures, selected lyrics, sequences, and prose, appeared in 2020. I am a recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and various other scholarships. Among plays, Rasputin and Gambits were produced at the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. Time's Up and Fox, Hound, and Huntress were premiered in Los Angeles; publications include Time's Up; Fox, Hound & Huntress; and Time's Up and Other Plays. I founded graduate playwrighting and the graduate screenwriting programs at USC and California State University, Northridge, respectively. I have published a screenwriting textbook, The Understructure of Writing for Film & Television, and A Poetics for Screenwriters, as well as The Death and Life of Drama, reflections on writing and human nature. My works also include a novel, Second Chances (2001). A children's novel, Orpheus Rising (2021), and a shorter children's book, The Tale of Brian and the House Painter Mervyn (spring, 2022). My family is split between Los Angeles, where I helped establish the California State Park System in the Santa Monica Mountains, and London, where a married daughter lives in Crouch End, the family seat for generations on my wife's side.
Ellen Raquel LeBow has illustrated among others Robert Finch's Special Places.... LeBow finds certain archetypal icons deeply compelling be they personal, ancient, or contemporary and draws what awes her. Much of the art in Orpheus Rising was made by carving through black India ink brushed over a board coated in white kaolin clay to expose the white clay. The lines are meant to give the illusion of drawing with light. She coordinates ART/MATENWA, a project that brings sustainability through art to women in Matènwa, Haiti. On the founding board of Wellfleet Preservation Hall, she splits her time between Wellfleet and Cambridge, MA with her long-time partner Seth Rolbein and their two goddaughters Hernitte Riviere and Woodmyha Rafa Lima.

Lee's curious, myth-touched adventure, which reads like a blend of The Phantom Tollbooth, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and a modern-day Orpheus story, finds a lonely boy named Sam stuck in the middle of nowhere with a father, John, who grows greyer by the day. The two spend their time silently doing chores, and every night they share the same terrifying nightmare, though neither speaks of it. One day a mysterious book arrives, and Sam discovers that what happens in it can come true in real life. Inspired, he uses its strange power to change everything for himself and his father, opening the door to a dangerous world where nothing is as it seems. With the help of Sam's imagination they team up-John somewhat reluctantly-with a wise and distinguished elephant who loves to dance. Together, the three embark on a quest to save Sam's mother from the afterlife.

Though aimed at middle grade readers, Orpheus Rising at times feels like a mature philosophical contemplation of death, steeped in magical realism. There are also moments of true terror, and some of the imagery- coupled with the book's fantastical yet ominous illustrations-might be unsuitable for readers who scare easily. At the same time, the stakes can be almost comically low, as when an enchanted object renders any conflict avoidable. Elements of the plot require a thorough understanding of the rules of poker and the intricacies of sailing.

Real emotion powers Sam and John's adventure, their journey as much about the relationship between father and son as it is finding Sam's mother. Sam and John begin the novel torn apart by her absence, which John spent his entire childhood refusing to explain. Their quest to save her teaches each about the power of honesty, trust, and love. Lee's vivid imagination shines through each chapter of their quest, and his quirky characters will keep readers who appreciate fabulist adventure hooked throughout.

Takeaway: Imaginative and emotional, this underworld adventure offers thrills, chills, and insightful lessons.

Great for fans of: Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Roald Dahl.

July 6, 2021