The Old Country - Mordicai Gerstein

"Just remember...," muttered Great-Aunt Tanteh like an old hen, "never look too long into the eyes of a fox."

I picked up this book at the Half-Price Bookstore while we were in Dallas last Christmas. I like fairy tales and stories that feel like old fables, and this looked liked it would fit the bill. I just finished reading it to Robyn as a bedtime story.

Gisella and her family live in the Old Country, a place full of magic and devastated by war. At the beginning of the story her brother Tavido is drafted into the army, and it is left to her to hunt down the fox that has been stealing their chickens. But then the fox trades bodies with Gisella, and the rest of the book is Gisella's quest to get her own body back.

The book has the feel of an old, old story. Great-Aunt Tanteh is a mysterious figure with ancient knowledge that others have forgotten. Gisella, as a fox, begins to see the world differently as she seeks out her family. But despite the fairy tale feel of the story, it was unpredictable as well. I was surprised at the directions the tale took and at how it ended.

I really enjoyed this book, and it's a good one for reading aloud. It's not too long, but it is full. It may not be appropriate for younger kids because of the harsh images of war and destruction, but older kids may appreciate the mix of the worldly with the wondrous.

(And a random aside: the Half-Price Bookstore also sells "books by the yard," if you have some shelves to fill for a photo shoot, or you just want to look intellectual.)

Fed to jonathan's brain | July 25, 2009 | Comments (0)


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