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The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root
by Christopher Pennell; illustrated by Rebecca Bond

Little Carly sleeps during the day, awaking at night alert and curious about the world. No, she's not a vampire, and she isn't cursed – as far as she and her aunt can tell, it's just a quirk of her personality. At night, Carly reads or listens to the beautiful music played on the rooftops by rats. When one of the rats asks her to join his band, Carly instantly agrees – and finds herself spending her nights in a magical world where rats live in tiny villages in the woods, performing music for owls, and the roots of trees can be used as whistles. She also hears, for the first time, about someone called the Moon King. Carly must solve the mystery of this ruler before an evil being so powerful that it can control the minds of nearly ever creature in the forest succeeds in destroying first the rats, and then Carly's town.

This book feels very old-fashioned, a throwback to 20th century children's authors. Most specifically, the story reminds me of the work of E. B. White. There's that same sense of wonder about a world in which magical things happen but are simply accepted for what they are. I think the illustrations in the book strongly contribute to this nostalgic throwback – the black and white sketches remind me of Garth Williams, the man behind the art in Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, or Pauline Baynes' work on The Chronicles of Narnia. So kudos to Rebecca Bond – I think her art really enhances the story, wrapping it in a blanket of pleasant memories that helped set me in the proper, child-like mood.

There isn't a lot of depth to this little fairy tale, though. I mean, the story is pleasant and entertaining enough. It would be a great tale to read to a small child at bedtime. There are scary bits here and there, but they're more of a “Boo!” variety than frightening looks into the darkness of humanity. I mean to say is that the scares are not the sort that will linger on after the book's covers are closed. For some parents, that's exactly what you want in a bedtime story, right?

3 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
2011: Another little break for school...
2010: Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
2009: Doodle of the Day: Twilight
2008: Monarchy Mania Giveaway WINNERS


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