According to legend, the fictional valley of Krum is guarded by the Silver Fox and the Fire Wolf, the spirits of ice and fire respectively.
The villagers of Krum lead a pleasant if simple life, foraging for crown-shell snails for their food by day and at night returning to their homes among the treetops. Mio and Nao are (adult) siblings who live atop the tallest tree, and although they are very different from each other, they are the best foragers in Krum. One day, Nao finds a magic jewel inside one of the shells, and she decides to wear it around her neck. However, this act seems to change the world: The sky darkens, the river runs more slowly, and there are increasingly fewer snails to gather—until there are none left. Led by Mio’s wisdom and Nao’s bravery, the villagers of Krum go on a quest to restore balance to their land. Hari and Deepti’s narrative reads like a folktale. Although the storyline isn’t particularly original, the tale highlights the importance of environmental awareness and sensitivity and cautions against greed. The white type against a black background strikingly sets off the bold and beautiful illustrations. Mostly silhouettes against a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, they are full of movement and pattern, the roots and branches of trees reinforcing the sense of a web of life.
The significant subtext and captivating illustrations make this original tale a great teaching tool for educators and librarians. (Picture book. 5-8)