From the book jacket: 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.
Comment: I enjoyed reading this book aloud to our children, then 9 and 11, and despite having read it well over a year ago, the essence of the story remains clear in my mind. Children who have the patience to get into this story will be rewarded with a tale rich in imagery and language that explores the nature of humanity, war and judicial hypocrisy; but others may find it lacks the action packed pacing they are used to.
This review was originally published in June 2005, and has been updated for the August 2006 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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