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Review of The Silver Gate

bailey_silver gateThe Silver Gate
by Kristin Bailey
Intermediate, Middle School    Tegen/HarperCollins    313 pp.
1/17    978-0-06-239857-4    $16.99    g
e-book ed.  978-0-06-239859-8    $9.99

In Elric’s superstitious feudal village, people think children born with disabilities are changelings; even worse, that they bring down a curse on the community. That’s why Elric’s mother and younger sister, Wynn, with her strange fingers and slow understanding, live secretly in the woods, far from thick-skulled, bullying villagers. Then the children’s mother dies, and in order to save his sister from a terrible fate, Elric takes Wynn north through the forest in search of a place they can live in peace. The world is inhospitable and the journey is hard, but luckily Wynn has the magical song their mother taught her fixed firmly in her head. No matter how much Elric insists that “some things are nothing more than fanciful tales for children,” Wynn is sure that if they follow the clues in the song, they’ll end up in fairyland, safe with the fairy queen. Bailey nicely balances Elric’s stubborn, unimaginative certainty with Wynn’s openness to poetry and magic, showing the limitations of the well-meaning but insensitive care Elric gives Wynn. “Sometimes he talked to her like she was Mildred,” Wynn thinks with some outrage, “but Mildred was a chicken.” As much a thoughtful study of human care and relationships as it is a fairy tale. An author’s note identifies Wynn’s condition as the very rare Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome.

From the January/February 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker About Deirdre Baker

Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca
at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the
past tense.

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