From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–After many years of living with Seer, a blind old man with the gift of wisdom, young Matty discovers a gift of his own—the gift of healing living things, albeit at great personal cost to himself. The bucolic, democratic life in Village is changing suddenly, with greed, racism, and deceit making their first appearances. Previously good people seem to be trading parts of their deepest selves for foolish things. Forest is becoming hostile if not lethal to anyone who walks there, and gentle Leader is losing his calming influence over the residents of Village. Seer asks Matty to go through Forest and fetch his daughter Kira before Village is closed to any newcomers. On their way back through Forest, Kira and Matty are attacked by Forest in viciously painful ways that are frighteningly portrayed by the author and narrator. Only Matty can save Kira, Leader, and Village. An abrupt conclusion to the story, involving sacrifice for the greater good will leave listeners with many questions. Lois Lowry's use of language and imagery is as always elegant, but the political and religious symbolism weigh too heavily on this tale (Houghton, 2004). David Morse delivers a quietly relaxed reading of the fable, with some characters such as Matty and Seer more effectively voiced than others. Links to the first two books in this trilogy—The Giver
(Houghton, 1993) and Gathering Blue
(Houghton, 2000) most likely make this recorded book a necessary purchase.–B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY
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*Starred Review* Gr. 6-10. Like Lowry's hugely popular Newbery winner, The Giver
(1993), this story dramatizes ideas of utopia gone wrong and focuses on a young person who must save his world. Teenage Matty lives with his caregiver in the Village, a place of refuge, where those fleeing poverty and persecution are welcomed with kindness and find a home. But the Village people are changing, and many have voted to build a wall to keep the newcomers out. The metaphor of the wall and the rage against immigrants ("They can't even speak right") will certainly reach out to today's news images for many readers. But Lowry moves far beyond message, writing with a beautiful simplicity rooted in political fable, in warm domestic detail, and in a wild natural world, just on the edge of realism. Matty lives with his blind caregiver, Seer. Both of them were driven from home and nearly perished. The drama is in their affection; in the small details of how they cook, care for their puppy, and tease one another. Matty teases Seer about his blindness, even though they both know Seer sees more than most. In contrast is the terror of Matty's secret powers and the perilous journey he must undertake to save the Village. The physical immediacy of his quest through a dark forest turned hostile brings the myth very close and builds suspense to the last heart-wrenching page. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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