Reviews of The Old Country by Mordicai Gerstein

The Old Country

by Mordicai Gerstein

The Old Country by Mordicai Gerstein X
The Old Country by Mordicai Gerstein
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2005, 144 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2006, 144 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

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.

Author's Note
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."

Excerpt
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 eyes.

"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...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

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

Kirkus Reviews
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.

Publishers Weekly
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.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

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 ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Old Country, try these:

  • Hokey Pokey jacket

    Hokey Pokey

    by Jerry Spinelli

    Published 2014

    About this book

    More by this author

    Master storyteller Jerry Spinelli has written a dizzingly inventive fable of growing up and letting go, of leaving childhood and its imagination play behind for the more dazzling adventures of adolescence, and of learning to accept not only the sunny part of day, but the unwelcome arrival of night, as well.

  • The Second Life of Abigail Walker jacket

    The Second Life of Abigail Walker

    by Frances O'Roark Dowell

    Published 2013

    About this book

    More by this author

    Is it possible to start afresh when you're thoroughly weighted down?

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Bitch
    Bitch
    by Lucy Cooke
    In middle school biology class, many of us were told that men hunt and women nest, that testosterone...
  • Book Jacket: Jackie & Me
    Jackie & Me
    by Louis Bayard
    Louis Bayard's Jackie & Me offers a fictionalized version of the early relationship between John F. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Facemaker
    The Facemaker
    by Lindsey Fitzharris
    The summer of 1914 saw the beginning of World War I, the bloody conflict known as the 'war to end ...
  • Book Jacket: How to Read Now
    How to Read Now
    by Elaine Castillo
    Toni Morrison once wrote, 'My project rises from delight, not disappointment.' This remark appeared ...

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Some of It Was Real
    by Nan Fischer

    A psychic on the verge of stardom and a cynical journalist are brought together by secrets that threaten to tear them apart.

  • Book Jacket

    Widowland
    by C. J. Carey

    A thrilling feminist dystopian novel set in an alternate 1950s Britain under the control of the Third Reich.

Who Said...

Harvard is the storehouse of knowledge because the freshmen bring so much in and the graduates take so little out.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wishes W H B W R

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.