cover image The Puppets of Spelhorst (A Norendy Tale #1)

The Puppets of Spelhorst (A Norendy Tale #1)

Kate DiCamillo, illus. by Julie Morstad. Candlewick, $17.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-536216-75-2

A quintet of puppets—“the king and the wolf and the girl/ and the boy and the owl”—ponder their dreams and yearnings in this quietly entrancing novella told in three acts. Following the death of their owner, a regretful old sea captain called Spelhorst, the five puppets, said to be “in a story together,” are bundled into their trunk, sold to a musical rag-and-bone man, and eventually given to sisters Martha and Emma. After one of the sisters arranges the puppets on the mantel and begins working to include them in a play, each puppet undergoes a brief adventure that speaks to their nature: a king longing to rule, a wolf preoccupied with her own sharp teeth, a watchful girl with violet eyes, a boy longing to “do a great deed,” and a portentous owl with real feathers. Newbery Medalist DiCamillo applies spare prose and witty conversation in fleshing out the puppets’ desires as well as exploring the power of stories to promote community and offer a path to fulfillment. Occasional pencil illustrations from Morstad (Time Is a Flower) elegantly portray the figures, whose skin reflects the white of the page. Ages 7–10. Author’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Jr./Folio Literary. (Oct.)