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WABI by Joseph Bruchac Kirkus Star


A Hero’s Tale

by Joseph Bruchac

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: April 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-8037-3098-5
Publisher: Dial

Bruchac, in top form here, crafts an exhilarating journey tale that not only promotes the value of listening, asking questions and telling stories, but is laced with folkloric elements, heroic deeds, romance, toothy monsters and transformations. Born an owl with oddly pale feathers and the ability to understand all creatures, Wabi finds himself falling in love with Dojihla, a young woman from the local village. Discovering from his wise great-grandmother that he has the power to change his form, he becomes human (though retaining his owl’s ears). But when Dojihla rejects his suit, as she has those of all other men, he sorrowfully departs on a quest to discover what became of the wolf pack from which Malsumsis, his oversized best friend, had come. No, the plot doesn’t exactly hang together—but readers aren’t likely to care that much, as, along the way, Wabi faces one malign, magical swamp or forest creature after another, culminating in a titanic battle to save a repentant Dojihla from a crazed giant bear. Parts of this, particularly the climax, will seem familiar to fans of Michelle Paver’s Wolf Brother (2005), but Bruchac gives the story a distinctive Native American cast, and readers won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough. (Fantasy. 11-13)