The Puppets of Spelhorst (Hardcover)
Shut up in a trunk by a taciturn old sea captain with a secret, five friends—a king, a wolf, a girl, a boy, and an owl—bicker, boast, and comfort one another in the dark. Individually, they dream of song and light, freedom and flight, purpose and glory, but they all agree they are part of a larger story, bound each to each by chance, bonded by the heart’s mysteries. When at last their shared fate arrives, landing them on a mantel in a blue room in the home of two little girls, the truth is more astonishing than any of them could have imagined. A beloved author of modern classics draws on her most moving themes with humor, heart, and wisdom in the first of the Norendy Tales, a projected trio of novellas linked by place and mood, each illustrated in black and white by a different virtuoso illustrator. A magical and beautifully packaged gift volume designed to be read aloud and shared, The Puppets of Spelhorst is a tale that soothes and strengthens us on our journey, leading us through whatever dark forest we find ourselves in.
Julie Morstad is the illustrator of numerous acclaimed books for young readers, including House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg, When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano, and Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Like many other stories featuring toys, from Hitty to The Mouse and His Child, there is a strain of melancholy here, with characters who long for autonomy but whose existence is dependent on the imaginations of others. This mood is perfectly captured in digitally rendered pencil drawings that add specificity (a Regency-esque setting in fictional Norendy), dignity, drama, and sheer beauty.
—The Horn Book (starred review
What treasure box does DiCamillo have in store for young readers this time? One that contains five beautifully crafted puppets. . . DiCamillo’s storytelling is as effortless as always, and Morstad’s frequent pencil illustrations elevate it further. This first of the Norendy Tales chapter-book series is guaranteed to enchant young readers. This collaboration by two masters of their craft—a Newbery Medalist and a Governor General’s Literary Award finalist—will prove irresistible.
—Booklist (starred review)
Puppets yearn for greater things. . . . A quiet, comforting fable of identity and belonging.
Wow. DiCamillo’s The Puppets of Spelhorst is a master class in storytelling. As soon as I finished the book, I turned back to page one and started reading it again. Five stars.
—Colby Sharp, educator and coauthor of The Commonsense Guide to Your Classroom Library
There’s so much more to talk about with this book. The role of the girls who play with the puppets and how their very different impressions of them cause great changes. The role of the maid Jane Twiddum and what she wants. Heck, there’s a whole undercurrent of feminism and the roles puppets and living women play within society, but I suppose I’ll save that for someone else’s thesis. The important thing to understand is that this is a story where it doesn’t matter how physically passive you are. Your interior life, your hopes and dreams and goals, that’s the thing that matters. That’s what’s going to make you into an active protagonist in the end, regardless of whether or not you have the ability to move. The Puppets of Spelhorst taught me that. Now imagine what it could teach your own children.
—Betsy Bird, A Fuse #8 Production, School Library Journal