October 15, 2020 7:54 AM EDT

When the peaceful woodland creatures who make their home in a red sandstone abbey at the edge of Mossflower Woods find themselves besieged by a rat army, the brave mouse Matthias seeks out the sword that can save the day. And, with that, Brian Jacques begins to establish a world that would sustain the eponymous series through more than two dozen prequels, sequels and other tie-ins. Not only do these critters go on page-turning adventures, solve riddles alongside young readers and prepare feasts sumptuous enough to inspire a cookbook, they also possess rich inner lives. The moral framework of Redwall, a Carnegie Medal nominee, can sometimes be stark—the idea that some kinds of animals are generally good and others are bad is a central device—but its fantasy universe has a depth that rivals any mole’s best effort. —Lily Rothman

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