cover image Cloud and Wallfish

Cloud and Wallfish

Anne Nesbet. Candlewick, $16.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8803-5

Nesbet’s (The Wrinkled Crown) author’s note (“Some books live on the history shelves, and other books are fiction—but Cloud & Wallfish has deep roots in both”) captures the essence of this intricately detailed story of an American boy forced to move to East Berlin in 1989. Eleven-year-old Noah Keller is shocked when his family abruptly relocates to communist-controlled Germany and even more surprised when his parents change his name and birthday. Before entering the city, his parents lay out important rules, including “Don’t ever talk about serious things indoors” and “Don’t call attention to yourself.” Noah’s self-described “Astonishing Stutter” isolates him until he meets his adventurous neighbor, Claudia. With her help, Noah unravels why his parents are acting strangely and what happened to Claudia’s dead parents. Through Noah’s innocent but perceptive eyes, readers receive a first-hand look at this secretive and highly controlled world. Post-chapter “Secret Files” provide fascinating historical context, but the story’s heart lies in the friendship between Claudia and Noah, and in the lengths loved ones will go to in order to break down even the most formidable walls. Ages 10–14. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Oct.)