Tuesday, September 11, 2018


38256488Hautman, Pete. Otherwood
September 11th 2018 by Candlewick Press
ARC graciously provided by Mr. Hautman

Stuey, his mother, and his grandfather live in a large, old house that has been in the family for generations and stands at the edge of a woods. After a huge storm, his grandfather passes away. Stuey continues to explore the woods, because he did this frequently with his grandfather. Of especial interest is a deadfall (several trees uprooted by the storm that make a sort of leafy cave), and this becomes a place he and new neighbor Elly enjoy playing. There is some bad blood between the families, since Stuey's great grandfather was bootlegger who later turned to a legitimate business in a country club and golf course. Unfortunately, Elly's great grandfather was a Jewish lawyer who was not allowed to join the country club, and the two disappeared from the woods on the same night. When Stuey and Elly are enjoying some of her mother's pie, Elly disappears right in front of Stuey's eyes. This, of course, is hard to explain to the authorities, who don't believe Stuey. They try to find a man who appears in a photograph Stuey has taken, but as time passes, no clues are found and Elly does not reappear. However, in an alternative reality, STUEY is the one to have disappeared, and we hear how events unfold in both planes of existence. Of course, the families deal differently with the disappearances, but the trajectory of the woods' fate is different as well. Stuey and Elly occasionally see each other and try to put the worlds together. Does the secret to this lie in the grandfather's stories, which are laid out in the notebooks he was writing just before his death?
Strengths: This is a love letter to a time and place gone by. Mr. Hautman lived near a very similar woods and golf course growing up, and at the time, children were allowed to run free! Now, this is something that most children only get to read about. The mystery of the great grandfather's death, and the inclusion of discrimination against Jews will both interest younger readers. Usually, the Holocaust is the only coverage of anti-Semitism that appears in books. There's a very Michael Lawrence A Crack in the Line feel to the alternate realities of Stuey and Elly, a bit similar to the Klaatu books time bending.
Weaknesses: Stuey is an odd choice for a character's name, and describing imaginary world building is always difficult. Fun to do, hard to read about other's attempts.
What I really think: Mr. Hautman is such a talented writer and writes so many different kinds of books, from the mind bending Klaatu Terminus series to Sweetblood, a vampire themed book written BEFORE Twilight! It's always interesting to see what he is writing next, although Slider was so good that I'd love to see more funny MG/YA fiction from him!

Flanagan, John. The Red Fox Clan (Royal Ranger #2)
August 21st 2018 by Philomel Books
Public library copy

After 11 Ranger's Apprentice Books, 7 Brotherband Chronicles, 2 Ranger's Apprentice: The Early Years and two Royal Rangers (plus a collection of short stories!), you would think we would all be tired of Flanagan.

We are not.

In 2007, I remember getting a huge shipment of books that included Erak's Ransom, and checking out the books to students when they were still cold-- when I opened up the shipment yesterday, this book was one of the first that I put into a student's hands! There is just something really, really appealing about these books, and Ranger's Apprentice in particular is a series where the last book is just as worn out as the first book, which is a really rare occurrence!

Our fan base at my school is so dedicated that a while back the copy I preordered showed up on my porch on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I biked it to a student's house with instructions to take it to one of his friends when he was finished... and he did. On Friday, that friend handed me a copy of The Red Fox Clan he had checked out from the public library and finished, because he knew that I hadn't had a chance to read it yet.

Ahhhh. You may all weep gently now. I am.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! You are dedicated! What a nice story of the book circulating.