by Amos Oz, translated by Sondra Silverston
Harcourt Children's Books, 2011.
Grades 5 and up
Reviewed from e-galley provided by publisher through NetGalley.
In a gray and gloomy village, all of the animals—from dogs and cats to fish and snails—disappeared years before. No one talks about it and no one knows why, though everyone agrees that the village has been cursed. But when two children see a fish—a tiny one and just for a second—they become determined to unravel the mystery of where the animals have gone. And so they travel into the depths of the forest with that mission in mind, terrified and hopeful about what they may encounter. (goodreads.com)This is a rather unusual book. The intent seems to be fable-like with an underlying moral, but for me it came off as mostly a rather sad, depressing book. However, the writing is beautiful and credit needs to be given to both the author and the translator for that. I doubt though that the book will be picked up by kids on their own.
It would make an interesting assigned reading or read-a-loud, with much to discuss: courage, hope, revenge, anger, and loss are all topics that come up in this book. There is rather a lot of description, and a lot less plot, the story kind of meanders and I doubt most kids would finish this on their own. But it is a thought-provoking book, ideal for discussion in an English class.