I picked The Green Ember up after requesting my library buy it, and there have been people ahead of me AND behind me waiting for it, which is a great sign for a new author like S. D. Smith.
I first heard about this 360+ paged novel by Sarah McKenzie from Amongst Lovely Things and the Read Aloud Revival podcast. She has an interview with Smith AND another interview (this week's!) that just went live with the illustrator, Zach Franzen. I loved the illustrations from the cover and the book (though I think I expected more throughout the book) and really enjoyed Franzen's interview on the podcast.
The Green Ember is about two rabbits, Heather and Picket, and the adventure they go on when their family's home is burned and attacked by evil wolves and hawks. The siblings have to rely on each other, and the community they find themselves in, even though the secrets they will find out about their extended family loom large and black in the present day of preparing for war.
The names are excellent in this book--they stuck out to me, and the story is full and quick-paced, even for a large 'children's' novel. I think adults would enjoy reading this book as well, though I see it as primarily a book for children. I found it a bit clunky to read aloud, often jumbling my words because the sentences were so meaty. That's not necessarily a bad thing, for a sentence to be quite full, but it did diminish my overall experience of the book because of the verbal toll.
My kids loved this book. There has been a lot of hype on this book since it came out, and the kickstarter fund was well received. The action and the drama of the book kept my kids entertained, but I was thankful we only spent two weeks on it as our family read-aloud, because I wanted to move on. I would recommend this book not necessarily as a family read-aloud, but to an older child, perhaps 8 or 9 and above (with really high reading skills, otherwise maybe 11 years old), and let them have at it on their own. What kid wouldn't like rabbits with swords?