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Stripes of the Sidestep Wolf

by Sonya Hartnett

Published by Candlewick, 2005
208 pages
ISBN: 0-7636-2644-9

Ages 14 and older

In the mountains near Satchel’s home is a wild animal focused on survival: finding its next meal, securing a safe place to sleep. In a narrative that moves back and forth between the life of Satchel—a young man in his early 20s struggling to break free from his oppressive life--and the life of this unknown animal, Sonya Hartnett offers serious questions, extraordinary possibilities, and provocative mysteries to consider. Satchel knows that his future is dependent on leaving his difficult home life and economically depressed Australian town. But he can’t bring himself to go, despite his mother’s encouragement. Meanwhile, an acquaintance of Satchel’s named Chelsea has seen the animal in the mountains, and she’s convinced it’s a thylacine: a wolflike marsupial native to Tasmania. The only problem: thylacines are thought to be extinct, and Chelsea, whose own life hasn’t been easy, may just need something to believe in. Chelsea has done some research, and it’s improbable, but not impossible, that she’s right. When the wild animal and Satchel eventually meet at a moment of crisis in Satchel’s life, the encounter is transformative. Satchel’s outlook—on himself, his life, and even humanity—has shifted just enough that he can see hope where he saw none before. Hartnett is a breathtaking writer, with a gift for language and insight that makes this story, even at its darkest moments, something beautiful to read. (MS) ©2005 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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