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THE FLINT HEART by Katherine Paterson Kirkus Star


by Katherine Paterson & John Paterson & illustrated by John Rocco

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4712-4
Publisher: Candlewick

A heart-shaped talisman created in the Stone Age brings terribly corrupting power to those who possess it, until 12-year-old Charles Jago manages to destroy it permanently.

This magical adventure begins with the fashioning of a piece of flint into a charm for hardening hearts. A hard-hearted individual can rule his tribe in the Stone Age and, fast-forwarding to the early 20th century, become the leader in one’s community, but at a cost to his good nature, family and friends. That’s what happens first to Charles’ father, then to an imp called a Jacky Toad and then to a badger. Happily and with help from his little sister, his dog, the king of Fairyland, a talking hot-water bottle and the all-knowing Zagabog, Charles wrests the stone away from each one in turn, with no harm done. After all, this is a fairy tale. Written by Eden Phillpotts and first published in 1910, this traditional story has been deftly abridged and brought up to date by the Patersons. They’ve preserved the faintly English narrative voice and humor, idiosyncratic characters, lively action, distinctive Dartmoor setting and even many of the words. The 21st-century version features thoughtful design and Rocco’s digitally colored film-animation–style illustrations, including chapter-heads, full-page images and decorations throughout.

A grand tale skillfully updated and tightened up, this should win the hearts of a new generation. (Fantasy. 8-12)