cover image Neversink


Barry Wolverton, illus. by Sam Nielson. HarperCollins/Walden Pond, $15.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-202791-7

Wolverton debuts with a whimsical fantasy that does for Arctic waterfowl what the Redwall series did for woodland creatures. When a “Sickness” threatens the food supplies of the birds of Tytonia, the scheming pygmy owl Rozbell uses the opportunity to seize control of the Owl Parliament. He then imposes a hefty tax upon the nearby island colony of Neversink, forcing the resident auks to supply him with increasing amounts of fish and other supplies. Only adventure-seeking puffin Lockley, hummingbird Ruby, and scholarly walrus Egbert are willing to take a stand for their imperiled home. Set when “[h]umans did not yet roam the Earth, much less rule it,” Wolverton’s story takes place in a world in which owls wear bowler hats, walruses write multivolume history books, and puffins cook. The author is a natural storyteller, giving readers a charmingly wry, offbeat tale that draws on mythology and intersperses a good amount of information about Arctic wildlife amid the story’s humor. Nielson’s spot illustrations, not all seen by PW, strike just the right balance between anthropomorphism and realism. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.)