OUT OF THE DARK by Welwyn Wilton Katz


Age Range: 11 - 14
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 Katz (Come Like Shadows, 1993, etc.) mixes Viking mythology with the unlikely setting of a small coastal village in Newfoundland in this heartwarming tale about a family's struggle through grief. Ben, 13, his brother Keith, and their father move from Ottawa to Ship Cove after Ben's mother is murdered. Although Ben's father hopes the small town will nurture his sons' as well as his own spirits, village gossip, xenophobia, and even the local accent prove difficult for Ben to overcome. He turns to the hobby he shared with his mother--wood-carving--and builds a magnificent miniature Viking ship. Interspersed with scenes of Ben carving and avoiding the village boys are the myths of Viking adventure the family, as a group, had always enjoyed, and that continue to inspire Ben. When Ben's ship (named Frances, for his mother) sails, the brothers confront one another, ultimately forgiving each another and strengthening their bond. Katz's portrayal of the boys' relationship is dead-on accurate: Underneath the fights and name-calling there's the resilience of brotherly devotion. With the macho Viking tales and the emphasis on brotherhood, there may be a temptation to label this a book for boys, but few readers will not gain from this clear-eyed and encouraging tale of a family's love and survival. (Fiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-689-80947-6
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996