R.J. Palacio. Knopf, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-553-50811-6
When he’s struck by lightning in front of an oak tree—an event that doesn’t connect much with the rest of the story—Silas Bird, the introspective 12-year-old at the center of this meandering 1860 Ohio-set adventure, has the tree’s image permanently imprinted on his back. Silas lives with his inventive but reclusive father, a Scottish bootmaker and photographic scientist, as well as a protective teenage ghost named Mittenwool, until three men on horseback arrive at the family’s remote cabin to seize Silas’s father. When the kidnappers’ white-faced Arabian pony appears a few hours later, Silas is sure his father sent it, and rides off to find him, with Mittenwool reluctantly in tow. In the time-warped Woods, he meets a U.S. marshal tracking three outlaws; Silas, certain that they are the same people who took his father, joins him, en route narrating stories of his family’s history and encountering ghosts whom only he can see. Though Silas’s “I have made my peace with everything” perspective belies his age, Palacio’s cued-white characters are simultaneously crusty and charming in their altruistic bravado, and the blend of rambling western, scientific, and paranormal elements mixed with lingering questions about Silas’s father’s past will appeal to many as the trio underscores how even unlikely friendships can make for strong bonds. Images made from daguerreotypes serve as chapter heads. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/22/2021
Release date: 09/28/2021
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-0-593-50541-0
Library Binding - 304 pages - 978-0-553-50812-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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