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THE OLD COUNTRY by Modicai Gerstein

THE OLD COUNTRY

By Modicai Gerstein

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 1-59643-047-8
Publisher: Roaring Brook

A fable of many large ideas in a slim volume. Gisella recalls a mythical “Old Country” for her great granddaughter. Her story involves journey/quests to recover chickens stolen by Flame the fox; to rescue her family caught and imprisoned in the Emperor’s bogus war; and to regain her own body after a magical transference in which she and Flame exchange places. Thematically the story embraces the death of magic at the hands of human violence, the ruinous character of war, the nature of humanity and the hypocrisy of justice systems. Results are mixed, in part due to limitations of the fabulous form and its thin, archetypal characterizations. At quest’s end, Gisella decides to keep her fox body and send Flame off to flourish in the New World. The conclusion may not seem to flow credibly from character, leaving some readers to puzzle at Gisella’s choice. Nevertheless, its richness in language and imagery and its snatches of humor will offer layers of inquiry and discussion for the special reader. (Fiction. 9-13)