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FALLING IN by Frances O’Roark Dowell Kirkus Star

FALLING IN

By Frances O’Roark Dowell

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: March 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4169-5032-5
Publisher: Atheneum

A master at capturing the emotional lives of modern kids in realistic fiction proves equally adept with fantasy. When sixth-grader Isabelle Bean, the kind of “girl who is as silent as a weed,” falls through the floor of a supply closet into what is clearly a fantasy land, she arrives during “the witch’s season,” when all the children of the Five Villages hide in makeshift camps to avoid being eaten. Isabelle, however, thinks that a witch might be interesting, so she heads south instead of north, picking up the girl Hen, who is straggling behind her village’s evacuation, along the way. Soon they bump into Grete, an old woman who lives alone in the woods and who takes them in, teaching them herbal lore and healing. Here, the beguilingly crotchety intrusive narrator suggests readers might want a refund for the lack of excitement, but... The fledgling fantasist produces surprises, despair, reunions and hope, all with a deft, playful touch and the ability to deliver breathtakingly penetrating insights perfectly pitched to her audience. Dowell spreads her wings and soars. (Magical adventure. 10-14)