cover image The Hermit Thrush Sings

The Hermit Thrush Sings

DK Publishing, Susan Butler. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $16.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2489-1

Leora Moran lives in Village Three in Maynor, a nation under the control of the Rulers and once the state of Maine. It was Leora's Grand Nan, with her gift for drawing visions of the future, who predicted the Disaster--a meteor that struck the earth 100 years ago, creating new species and plant life (and perhaps responsible for Leora's mysterious webbed left hand) and setting the stage for the Rulers' dominion. Leora knows that something greater exists beyond the locked gates of the village, but stories of her father and sister's deaths by the dreaded birmbas, a hybrid species of bear and ape that lives outside the village walls, keep her from exploring. One day she finds a captive baby birmba in her basement, and the act of freeing him, combined with her growing awareness that she shares Gran Nan's gift, set off a chain of events that liberates more than just the birmba. Butler's debut novel holds few surprises (readers will see the big reunion coming), and rare are the details that give readers a sense of time or place (for instance, one character mentions in passing that there were once ""traveling machines with wheels that went from village to village, faster than a galloping horse""). But events move swiftly, and Leora as an unlikely champion makes for a likable heroine. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)