cover image Carag’s Transformation (Woodwalkers #1)

Carag’s Transformation (Woodwalkers #1)

Katja Brandis, trans. from the German by Rachel Ward, illus. by Claudia Carls. Arctis, $16 (200p) ISBN 978-1-64690-020-6

A shape-shifting 13-year-old attends a boarding school for fellow shifters in this innovative series opener. Puma shape-shifter Carag grew up with his younger sister and parents, all feline shifters, in the wilderness near Jackson Hole, Wyo. Brief visits into a nearby town offer Carag glimpses into the human world, which he longs to join until, at age 11, he leaves his family behind to live among people. Feigning amnesia and going by a different name, Carag spends two years with a human foster family before he meets local celebrity Andrew Milling, whom Carag recognizes as an adult puma shape-shifter. Carag is initially unsettled by Milling’s anti-human rhetoric and insistence that Carag attend Clearwater High, a nearby boarding school for land-based shifters, called woodwalkers. Upon enrolling, though, he realizes that Clearwater gives him a sense of belonging that he hasn’t experienced since he left his family, who have mysteriously vanished. The woodwalkers’ animalian forms lend a mystical air to quotidian middle school challenges involving bullies and friendship, and Carls’s hyper-realistic grayscale puma illustrations, featured throughout, ground Brandis’s fantastical storytelling. Human characters are white. Ages 10–up. (Feb.)