A Measure of Disorder by Alan Tucker is a wonderful foray into fantasy and imagination. Technically a young adult book, the book is just as likely to appeal to middle-graders as the heroine of the book is a fourteen-year-old eighth grader name Jenni Kershaw.
Jenni and her eighth grade science class are on a field to a nearby campground to collect plant samples for a science project. Suddenly, after lunch, the entire class finds themselves going unexpectedly sleepy. A mist rolls over the lake they are picnicking near and when everyone awakes they discover they are now in an alternate reality that is very different from their own.
Slowly, as time goes on Jenny and her classmates find themselves surrounded by strange people and new and threatening circumstances. One after another Jenni’s classmates begin to change, some for the better; others for the worse. Then two distinct camps are developed. One wishes to live in peace, but the other seeks the destruction of the peaceable camp. What will the outcome be?
What follows is an excerpt from the story, taken from approximately midway through:
“Rodrin lowered himself down and returned shortly with a small Nomenstrastenai girl, and a tiny flying Faerstrastenai that immediately sped over to Jenni and landed on her shoulder, hugging her neck.
“Oh Jenni! I’m so glad to see you!” the Faerstrastenai said in a soft voice that sounded familiar.
Jenni let the hug continue for a few seconds, then offered her hand to step onto so she could see the Faerstrastenai face to face. She apologized and buzzed to Jenni’s hand. Jenni thought first of Rachael, but her features and hair were different.
“Deena!” Jenni exclaimed. “Oh my gosh! I wish I could hug you back!”
Deena laughed. “Me too.”
“Deena, this is Ba’ize. He’s the mayor of Seren’naie”
Deena performed a curtsy in midair and Ba’ize smiled. “A pleasure to meet you Deena,” he said. “And who has come along with you?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” Deena ushered the girl forward. “This is Feeder, she's from Crank’s village.”
The girl sniffled and bowed to both Ba’ize and Jenni. As she straightened, Jenni saw tears in her eyes. She had blond hair, like Crank, and wore a simple tan dress, typical of her people, but it was soiled and torn. She also looked incredibly tired. Jenni then recalled this was the girl she had seen tending the tamed birds in the village while they were there.
Jenni looked back to Deena, “What happened? How did you get here?”
Deena proceeded to tell the story of the transformations of Mrs. Minch, Mike, and Scott and the subsequent attack on the village. The Gobinstrastorai had arrived and camped around the village for two or three days, then somehow managed to destroy the defense mechanism that protected the Nomenstrastenai. Deena and Feeder had been able to slip out during the battle and hide. The next day when they had seen the devastation of the village, the two had decided to follow the trail of Ms. Pap and the class, and make their way to Seren’naie.
Feeder began to cry and Jenni sat on the floor, holding her. Ba’ize sat in a chair, trying to make sense of their story.
A few minutes later, Crank arrived back from his errands, and the painful tale was relayed to him. Feeder ran to him and Crank absently comforted her while he sat in shock at the realization that his mother and father were dead.”
A Measure of Disaster by Alan Tucker, copyright 2010, MAD Design, Inc, 212 Fair Park Drive, billings Montana 59012, author’s website: http://www.mother-earthseries.com Smashwords Edition http://www.smashwords.com ISBN 978-0-9826864-0-9 $3.99
(reviewed 70 days after purchase)