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The Hermit Thrush Sings

by Susan Butler

Published by A Melanie Kroupa Book/DK Ink, 1999
282 pages
ISBN: 0-7894-2489-4

Ages 9 - 12

It has been over 100 years since the Disaster. Leora lives in Maynor. Once the state of Maine, it is now a country where people are forbidden by the Rulers to travel beyond the gated walls of their segregated villages. Nor do they want to: all have been taught that the wild creatures called birmbas that live "outside" are vicious and deadly. But encounter with a captured baby birmba sets the young girl on a courageous journey to free the creature--and herself. The webbing between her fingers makes Leora a defective,"barely tolerated in her stepmother's home. Even knowing that her father and older sister never returned from a journey beyond their village walls, Leora escapes, entering a wide open world of danger, fear, and, incredibly,hope. One by one, the lies that the Rulers have been promoting to keep the people under their control are revealed to her. Encountering men, women and children in other villages who are working secretly to overthrow the Rulers, she eventually makes her way to the heart of the resistance--a sea island where a large group of women are preparing to lead the fight for freedom. Leora's growing realization of her own strength and power are at the heart of a fantasy fueled by feminist and humanist ideals. There are occasional awkward moments in establishing the framework for this story set in a future based on our own gone terribly wrong, but once the author hits her stride the storytelling will keep readers, especially those with a taste for this kind of futuristic fantasy, under its spell. CCBC categories: Fiction for Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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