GWINNA by Barbara Helen Berger


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A lovingly created book about a child who is given by the Mother of the Owls to a human couple who promise to let her go at the age of 12--but who cannot bear the thought of keeping their vow and are distressed by the wings she grows, concealing them by binding them to her body. When the time comes for Gwinna to leave, her parents turn to stone. Gwinna returns to the owls, learns to fly, and goes on a quest to a distant mountain. There, she meets a benign griffin and a tree girl who bids her to use her wood to make a harp. Though horrified by the tree's death, Gwinna complies; not only is the tree reborn, but the harp survives a ritual curing by fire before Gwinna returns to the owls and to bring her parents back to life with the harp's music. Berger's delicate paintings--in the style familiar to readers of Grandfather Twilight (1986)--are the best feature Of this earnest allegory about achieving selfdom and unity with an idealized Nature. Berger writes with sincerity and some grace; but, while some of her images are striking, the ideas behind them are trite, a little muddled, and not very deep. The format is lovely, and some readers are sure to admire the sweet story; others will find it cloying.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1990
Page count: 127pp
Publisher: Philomel/Putnam