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."
Children's Literature - Terri L. Lent
Gisella learns about power and justice and, after finally meeting the fox again, must chose her fate. This story has the feel of a traditional fairy tale and could be easily adapted into a language arts curriculum. Ages 10-14
Gerstein skillfully shapes a story by turns disturbing and comforting. His hybrid of fantasy and fable explores such themes as human nature, war, magic and music.
School Library Journal - Susan Hepler
This is a challenging burgoo of a novel and a rambling character-ridden tale that may have a difficult time finding and holding an audience. Grades 3-6.
A fable of many large ideas in a slim volume.....The conclusion may not seem to flow credibly from character, leaving some readers to puzzle at Gisella's choice. Nevertheless, its richness in language and imagery and its snatches of humor will offer layers of inquiry and discussion for the special reader. Ages 9-13.
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 became a series that has continued for
more than 30 years.
After a few years Gerstein felt that he
wanted to write books himself. He says
'at first I...
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