THE CARVED BOX by Gillian Chan


Age Range: 11 - 13
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A young orphan’s dog turns out to be considerably more than she seems in this Canadian wilderness tale set in the years following the American Revolution. Unwanted by his Scots relatives, Callum goes involuntarily from Edinburgh to his Uncle Rory’s remote farm in Upper Canada. Just before arriving, he impulsively spends most of his savings to buy an abused dog, plus a small, sealed box, from a vicious, oddly tattooed stranger. It’s a good investment, as it turns out, for Dog not only seems to understand everything that’s said to her, but repeatedly rescues Callum from the consequences of his own carelessness or ignorance, often saving lives in the process. Dog’s almost human awareness—along with selkie stories and songs from his homeland—gives Callum clues to her true nature and a willingness to credit them. Subject to severe mood swings driven by his distaste for farm work on one side and a growing love for his cousins and their kind-hearted father on the other, Callum makes an appealing protagonist whose relationship with Dog grows into warm respect after sundry adventures. Rather than take her cues from traditional selkie tales and end on a tragic or poignant note, Chan has Callum give Dog her freedom—the human skin in the box—and discover that their friendship survives. A well-knit, outdoorsy tale. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-55074-895-5
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: Kids Can
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2001


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