Review of Wildoak

Wildoak Wildoak
by C.C. Harrington; illus. by Diana Sudyka
Intermediate    Scholastic    288 pp.
9/22    9781338803860    $17.99

This novel, set in 1963, consists of three narrative strands. Londoner Maggie, nearly twelve, lives with a stutter. Her halting speech makes school a misery, and she’s facing the threat of being sent to a boarding school for the disabled that has a frightening reputation. A visit to her grandfather, a doctor who lives in a small Cornish village, provides a temporary reprieve. Running alongside this story is the dramatic tale of Rumpus, a young snow leopard bought at the exotic pet department of Harrods department store and then abandoned in a forest adjacent to the same Cornish village. Finally, we follow the fate of that ancient forest, the property of Lord Foy, a truly malevolent villain who plans to raze it for development. In a suspenseful and neatly-worked-out plot we see how Maggie’s deep connections to animals and the natural world are her greatest strengths, enabling physical bravery and creative problem-solving. The theme of diverse varieties of communication braids the narrative together and deepens its impact. Generous back matter alerts readers to resources on stuttering, big-cat conservation, and reforestation efforts worldwide. ­Chapter decorations and the occasional pen-and-ink illustration add to the richness of this immersive experience.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.