Cover image for The wind singer : an adventure
The wind singer : an adventure
Nicholson, William.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.
Physical Description:
ix, 358 pages ; 24 cm.
After Kestrel Hath rebels against the stifling rules of Amaranth society and is forced to flee, she, along with her twin brother and a tagalong classmate, follow an ancient map in quest of the legendary silver voice of the wind singer, in an attempt to heal Amaranth and its people.
General Note:
Sequel: Slaves of the Mastery.
Reading Level:
770 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG+ 5.4 12.0 43480.

Reading Counts RC High School 7.1 17 Quiz: 24092 Guided reading level: NR.
Added Author:


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



In his first novel for young adults, Nicholson blends fast-paced adventure, suspense, humor, and warmth. With its unforgettable characters and vivid, magical world, The Wind Singer is the exciting beginning to a compelling new fantasy trilogy.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. In Amaranth, life is very structured: people live in color-coded rings around the city--white for best, gray for the gritty outer circle--and tests rule all. When two-year-old Pinpin fails her first test, her older sister, Kestrel, snaps and is banished to the bottom of her class, even below the hated Mumpo. In a wild scene, Kestrel escapes, and with her twin brother, Bowman, and a map goes on a quest for the voice of the Wind Singer, an odd sculpture in the middle of Amaranth that has long been silent. (Its voice, shaped like a silver key, is pictured on Kestrel's map.) It is escape Kess and Bo are after, even when the hapless Mumpo joins them, but it's the Wind Singer that drives them. There's not much imagination or depth in the heavy-handed portrayal of caste systems, warrior tribes, and smarmy villains. But the background is well delineated, as are the fabulous battles, including one in which the children are aided by wolves and eagles. Mumpo provides comic relief and gives Kess and Bo the opportunity to reexamine their assumptions. A thrilling denouement leaves the way clear for the rest of the saga. Peter Sis' illustrations were not available in galley. GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nicholson's (Shadowlands) highly imaginative debut YA novel, the first in a planned trilogy, starts out tantalizingly but eventually neglects its internal logic. In the dystopian city of Aramanth, family ratings determine position, housing and privileges within the society's color-coded caste system. As the novel opens, the Hath family brings two-year-old Pinpin for her first day of "testing"Äwith comically disastrous results. Shortly after, Kestrel, the Haths' strong-headed and brave daughter, stages a rebellion in a riotously depicted scene at school and eventually ends up climbing the wind singer (a giant archaic structure whose history is nearly forgotten) to hurl curses at the town. Events escalate, and soon Kestrel, her twin brother (who has supernatural abilities to empathize with others) and a learning-disabled classmate, Mumpo, find themselves on a quest to retrieve the wind singer's voice; according to legend, it will restore harmony to Aramanth. Nicholson is at his best when he adheres to Kestrel's point of view; occasional shifts in perspective may temporarily break readers from the author's spell. Highly original characters, such as the loving "Mudpeople" who inhabit a world under the city's grid-like streets, and "old children" whose touch zaps the life from normal humans, exert a powerful fascination. However, there are inconsistencies (Why, when Mumpo turns into one of the "old children," is he exempt from the laws that govern them?) and unexplored elements (e.g., Kestrel's mother's ancestry and gifts as a prophetess). Perhaps these curiosities will be explained in subsequent installments, but they come across here as loose ends. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 10-14. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-A prominent producer/director/ scriptwriter ventures into epic-or at least epic length-fantasy with this tale of three children out to save the regimented residents of their walled city. Over generations since the small silver "voice" of a mysterious aeolian pipe organ known as the wind singer was meekly surrendered to the Morah, a menacing spirit-lord, Aramanth has become enslaved by a relentless ethic of academic self-improvement, enforced by color-coded social strata and regular, supervised, written examinations. When the misfit Hath family draws the eye, and ire, of the Chief Examiner, twins Kestrel and Bowman set out to reclaim the wind singer's voice, accompanied by a despised, simpleminded classmate. After an episodic series of encounters-including hordes of giant eagles and wolves, and finally with the Zar, an army of murderous zombies that marches at the Morah's behest-the three do give the wind singer back its ethereal voice, whereupon the pursuing Zar all die and the citizens of Aramanth spontaneously throw off their oppressive urge to excel. Nicholson throws a satiric light onto his various societies, gives his young protagonists intriguing capabilities, and concocts genuinely bone-chilling supernatural menaces. However, rescue (usually of a contrived sort) is always so conveniently close at hand that the children never fall into convincing peril, and subplots seem to exist for the sole purpose of giving their parents something to do. Still, despite being the first of a projected trilogy, the story stands alone, and fans of such barbed journey tales as Tanith Lee's Wolf Tower (Dutton, 2000) will enjoy the social commentary.-John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.