GODHANGER by Dick King-Smith


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Age Range: 11 - 13
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Fans of King-Smith’s light, wry animal stories (The Spotty Pig, 1997, etc.) will be shocked by this brutal Christian allegory. The creatures of Godhanger Wood go about, as is their nature, feeding on the helpless and unwary, keeping an eye out for the hunter ironically dubbed “the gamekeeper.” Meanwhile, on a great cedar of Lebanon perches the golden-feathered Skymaster, dispensing wisdom and cryptic warnings to the 12 birds who have been drawn to listen. Opening with a rabbit doe’s grisly death at the hands (literally) of the gamekeeper, the slaughter continues until, ultimately, the Skymaster is gunned down, to hang on a cross-shaped gibbet, just as the gamekeeper’s other trophies have; although an old raven later sees the Skymaster ascend heavenward, the implied promise is less likely to make an impression on readers than the ugly events leading up to it. Rendered with detail and drama reminiscent of Audubon’s, Davidson’s accomplished black-and-white wildlife portraits ennoble their animal subjects, and effectively capture the dark, tone of this radical change of pace from a popular, author. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-517-80035-7
Page count: 151pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1998


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