Native American folklore and magical realism combine in a young boy’s life in this debut children’s book.
Jamie’s idyllic life in the Hudson Valley is much like any other child’s—he plays, he laughs, and he loves his family. After breakfast one morning, Jamie notices his grandfather dropping toast crumbs through a grate in the floor, and he doesn’t think much of it—until a tiny pink nose pokes through and takes the little feast. Then one day, Jamie awakes to find his parents frozen and his grandfather vanished. Ollie—the mouse owner of the little pink nose that Jamie saw earlier—tells him that the Wharwhoops, large, treelike creatures, are after him, and they must escape in order to help the boy’s family. Ollie and Jamie embark on an adventure through the Hudson Valley’s many rolling hills in search of the Great Manitou—the ruler of all things—and they encounter many creatures along the way. Jamie also discovers that he may have special powers that he’s hidden all along. Will he save his parents and find his grandfather? Or will the Wharwhoops flex their mighty roots and take the family’s spirits for all of eternity? Santa Teresa’s childhood in the Hudson Valley is clear as soon as the reader begins turning the pages of this work. He mixes traditional Native American folklore with the romanticism of being a kid, and it all culminates in a delightfully dreamy result. Children and adults alike should be charmed by the evocative tale—there’s just enough drama to pique the interest of older kids but not so much that it would be frightening for the younger set. Kids should be able to relate to Jamie’s quest—surmounting hurdles, facing fears, and ultimately looking within to see him through. Paek’s colorful illustrations are an alluring addition to the book—there’s a surreal quality to them that pairs perfectly with the folklore backbone of the volume. The only caveat? There should be more images, because they’re so lovely to look at.
A wonderfully imaginative tale of overcoming obstacles and finding special powers.