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WILLOW AND TWIG by Jean Little


by Jean Little

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: April 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-670-88856-7
Publisher: Viking

A sad and unfortunate situation of child abandonment and abuse is turned around in a consuming story that offers realism, hope, and psychological fortitude. Ten-year-old Willow Wind Jones and her four-year-old half-brother, Twig, have been left, as before, by their drug-addicted mother with an older, sick woman in a welfare hotel. Three months have gone by with no sign of their mother, Angel, and when the old woman collapses, probably dying, Willow assesses their circumstances and makes the difficult decision to seek help from the local police station. Social services intervenes and the children are returned to the supportive home of their grandmother who quickly begins the difficult process of establishing a trusting, protective, and loving environment. Little (Emma’s Yucky Brother, 2001, etc.) has skillfully developed the characters of the two children through Willow’s mental anguish as she has silently struggled alone for the last several years with her fears and bore the responsibility of serving as surrogate mother, teacher, and even stable adult to her physically and psychologically scarred brother. Twig’s physical abuse has resulted in his deafness and slow developmental progress, making him appear to be wild and uncontrollable in times of duress. Grandmother begins the legal process for guardianship and Angel eventually calls to make empty promises to the children, once again. Little has set the major portion of the story in a similar home life to her farmstead in Ontario, complete with animals and a blind uncle who is also a children’s author. Emotionally absorbing, with a somewhat convenient ending, but satisfying all the same. (Fiction. 10-12)