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Philip C. Stead
Kenneth Oppel is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwing trilogy has sold over a million copies worldwide and been adapted as an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn won a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award and the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s literature; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller and was named Children’s Novel of the Year by the London Times. He is also the author of Half Brother, This Dark Endeavor, Such Wicked Intent, and The Boundless. Born on Canada’s Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Canada; in England and Ireland; and now resides in Toronto with his wife and children. Visit him at KennethOppel.ca.
Jon Klassen is a Canadian illustrator who lives in Los Angeles now. He works as an animator for DreamWorks, where he worked extensively on Coraline. He likes cats, in theory. Visit him BurstofBeaden.com.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-07-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Oppel (The Boundless) enters Gaimanesque territory with his portrayal of Steve, an older brother struggling with anxiety and his family’s distress after his newborn brother, Theodore, is diagnosed with a rare congenital disorder. After a curious gray and white wasp from the hive above their house stings Steve, he develops the ability to speak to the hive’s queen, who promises to replace the ailing baby with a new one. Agreeing to the queen’s offer, Steve confronts a dangerous traveling knife sharpener, his parents’ concerns over his mental health, and strange phone calls from Mr. Nobody, a family legend turned real, it seems. As Theodore’s health deteriorates, Steve must decide what is best for his brother and what he will do to save him. Oppel infuses the natural world of the hive with chilling scenes of the queen’s heartlessness (“Before you know it, you’ll forget all about that crappy little broken baby”) while Klassen’s graphite drawings hauntingly depict the family’s stress (an early image, all angles and shadows, shows Steve’s parents standing solemnly over the baby’s crib), as well as increasing tension between Theodore’s complications and the wasps’ growing power. In exploring the boundaries of science, self-determination, and belief, Oppel uses a dark and disturbing lens to produce an unnerving psychological thriller. Ages 8–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)