From the winner of the 2004 Caldecott Medal comes a memorable new
work, a novel of singular insight and imagination that transports
readers to the Old Country, where "all the fairy tales come from,
where there was magic -- and there was war." There, Gisella stares a
moment too long into the eyes of a fox, and she and the fox exchange
shapes. Gisella's quest to get her girl-body back takes her on a
journey across a war-ravaged country that has lost its shape.
She encounters magic, bloodshed, and questions of power and justice --
until finally, looking into the eyes of the fox once more, she faces a
strange and startling choice about her own nature. Part adventure
story and part fable; exciting, beautifully told, rich in humor and
wisdom, The Old Country is the work of an artist and storyteller at
the height of his powers.
I think all stories are about the mystery of being human. My childhood curiosity about my grandparents' mysterious 'Old Country,' and a chance encounter with a fox in the woods, came together and were first explored in a short story I called Fox Eyes. But the ideas continued to grow and ripen and join with images from a Wallace Stevens poem read long before, until suddenly, after several years, I found myself writing The Old Country, which almost seemed to write itself. How can I be sure these ideas are finished with me? There may be more to come."
The Old Country
Gisella's brother had taught her how to shoot. She aimed at the
fox's chest. She had never killed anything before. She wondered if she could do
it now. Her anger at the theft of the chickens and sadness at the loss of her
brother were gone. She was alone, aiming an arrow at a fox who looked her in the
"What about my trial?" said the fox. "And why can't you look me in the eye?"
Gisella was startled. A talking fox! She had a small, nasal voice, like a little violin. An enchanted fox, thought Gisella. Then anger replaced surprise. "You stole our chickens," she said. "Give them back!"
"But, my dear girl," said the fox, "I didn't steal them. My lawyer will prove it, although really, you're the one who should do the proving. I'm completely innocent."
"How can there be a trial?" asked Gisella. "Where's the court? Where're the judge and jury...
Mordicai Gerstein was born in Los Angeles in
1935 and lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
After leaving the Chouinard Art Institute in Los
Angeles he got a job in an animated cartoon
studio, and worked for many years in New York
mainly on TV commercials.
In 1970 he met Elizabeth Levy, who would change the course of his life. She had written a mystery and was looking for an illustrator. The book ...
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Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.
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