BREATH by Donna Jo Napoli
Kirkus Star

BREATH

Age Range: 12 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

This fascinating Pied Piper bypasses the villain rehabilitation or feminist perspective common to most modern retellings; instead, it solidly grounds the tale in the 13th-century town of Hameln. Chronically ill, Salz can't help on the farm, so he studies with the priest as if preparing for the church. With his beloved Großmutter, he's also a member of the town's coven of Christian, God-fearing witches. Though no one expects him to live to adulthood, Salz dreams of a cure, perhaps brought from distant lands by a traveling piper. In spring, a devastating stock blight is followed by strangely selective plague, as the townsfolk fall ill with a terrifying, diseased madness. Is it caused by rats, or sin, or witchcraft? Salz, searching for logical answers and moral consistency, wants to help, but without drawing attention to his own suspicious (relative) health. A compelling mystery (explained scientifically in the author's postscript) and fully realized characters bring life to the legend. Move over, Browning. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-86174-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2003




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