Booklist Reviews

Eleven-year-old twins Gus and Leo and their younger sister, Ila, don't know it yet, but they are Folk, creatures of Celtic legend who can transform into animals, and when their mother can no longer hide them from a scary, vengeful monster, they are secreted away to a rocky island off the coast of Maine for protection. Once there, they learn about their mysterious heritage and how to transform into animals themselves. Soon, however, the monster learns of their presence, and they race to keep him from wreaking any more havoc. Though it suffers from a couple of distracting plot gaps, Raabe's debut novel is brimming with pleasing details, and her description of Gus and Leo's transformation into seals really shines—as the twins get used to darting through the sea as seals, they inhabit more than just their bodies. They also experience how seals see (they're color-blind); feel (by sensing vibration in the water around them); and communicate (in barks and clicks and without complex concepts like time). This page-turning fantasy-­adventure is tailor-made for marine-life fanatics. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Their mother's sudden illness and their father's attempt to whisk them away make it clear to Gus, Leo, and Ila that their parents are hiding major secrets. This frustrates the siblings enough that they follow a shapeshifting visitor to their mother's island of origin. After transforming into animals to gain entry, they fight the evil Dobhar-chz. The backstory's slow reveal creates plenty of suspense.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In a lush and swiftly moving fantasy, Gustavia (aka Gus) and her twin brother, Leo, are approaching their 11th birthday when life becomes strange. Tides are unusually high in the Gulf of Maine, fishermen disappear in sudden storms, and Gus and Leo discover that they can remain underwater without surfacing for breath. After their mother becomes deathly ill, Gus, Leo, and their highly sensitive younger sister are secreted away by an extinct species of sea mink called "The Bedell," who leads them to their maternal grandmother, the Morai, on the mysterious Far Islands. The children learn that they are "Folk," able to transform into animals like seals and foxes, and they must help prevent the dark Dobhar-Chu and his wolves from claiming the sea. Raabe's (Leave It Behind) poetic sensibility is visible in her vibrant descriptions of the ocean, the shape-shifters' heightened senses, and her vision of a liminal world hidden from human perception. Ages 8–12. (Apr.) H Ice Whale Jean Craighead George, illus. by John Hendrix Dial, $17.99 (156p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3745-7 George returns to the northern Alaska setting of her Newbery-winning Julie of the Wolves in this expansive story, which the author's children, Twig George and Craig George, completed after her 2012 death. Spanning two centuries—from 1848 to 2048—the novel interlaces the stories and perspectives of a family of Yankee whaling captains; generations of an Yup'ik clan cursed after one of them inadvertently discloses the location of a pod of whales to greedy whalers; and Siku, a bowhead whale that shares a deep bond with the tribe. While the first narrative track sheds intriguing (and sobering) light on whaling strategies and history, the latter two are emotionally involving and expose the interconnectedness of humans and whales with eloquence and insight. In one of many hard-hitting moments, Siku's "grief was heard through the ocean" after he sees his mother killed by a harpoon. Jean Craighead George's knowledge of and talent for depicting the natural world are in full evidence in this immersive epic that combines themes of conservation and native mysticism. A powerful finale for the author and a fine tribute to her literary legacy. Ages 9–11. (Apr.) Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery of Museum Mile Marcia Wells, illus. by Marcos Calo Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-544-23833-6 A normal day turns into a life-changer for African-American New York City sixth-grader Eddie Red when he learns that his father's job loss means he can no longer attend private school. After Eddie witnesses a scuffle in an alley, the police, led by surly Detective Bovano, are impressed when Eddie uses his photographic memory to sketch the perpetrator perfectly. Promising wages and to fund Eddie's schooling, the police hires the 11-year-old to visit museums and identify disguised members of the Picasso Gang, art thieves wreaking havoc on Museum Mile. Since Detective Bovano won't release specific information on the long-open case or give him a weapon, Eddie taps the expertise of his highly intelligent, obsessive-compulsive best friend Jonah, who schemes alongside him. In Wells's lighthearted, voice-driven debut novel, first in a planned series, Eddie never truly seems in danger, but his audacity and persistence, a clever mystery that unfolds atmospherically, and Calo's sly pencil portraits result in a fun sleuthing story. Ages 9–12. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Apr.)

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PW Annex Reviews

In a lush and swiftly moving fantasy, Gustavia (aka Gus) and her twin brother, Leo, are approaching their 11th birthday when life becomes strange. Tides are unusually high in the Gulf of Maine, fishermen disappear in sudden storms, and Gus and Leo discover that they can remain underwater without surfacing for breath. After their mother becomes deathly ill, Gus, Leo, and their highly sensitive younger sister are secreted away by an extinct species of sea mink called "The Bedell," who leads them to their maternal grandmother, the Morai, on the mysterious Far Islands. The children learn that they are "Folk," able to transform into animals like seals and foxes, and they must help prevent the dark Dobhar-Chu and his wolves from claiming the sea. Raabe's (Leave It Behind) poetic sensibility is visible in her vibrant descriptions of the ocean, the shape-shifters' heightened senses, and her vision of a liminal world hidden from human perception. Ages 8–12. (Apr.) H Ice Whale Jean Craighead George, illus. by John Hendrix Dial, $17.99 (156p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3745-7 George returns to the northern Alaska setting of her Newbery-winning Julie of the Wolves in this expansive story, which the author's children, Twig George and Craig George, completed after her 2012 death. Spanning two centuries—from 1848 to 2048—the novel interlaces the stories and perspectives of a family of Yankee whaling captains; generations of an Yup'ik clan cursed after one of them inadvertently discloses the location of a pod of whales to greedy whalers; and Siku, a bowhead whale that shares a deep bond with the tribe. While the first narrative track sheds intriguing (and sobering) light on whaling strategies and history, the latter two are emotionally involving and expose the interconnectedness of humans and whales with eloquence and insight. In one of many hard-hitting moments, Siku's "grief was heard through the ocean" after he sees his mother killed by a harpoon. Jean Craighead George's knowledge of and talent for depicting the natural world are in full evidence in this immersive epic that combines themes of conservation and native mysticism. A powerful finale for the author and a fine tribute to her literary legacy. Ages 9–11. (Apr.) Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery of Museum Mile Marcia Wells, illus. by Marcos Calo Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-544-23833-6 A normal day turns into a life-changer for African-American New York City sixth-grader Eddie Red when he learns that his father's job loss means he can no longer attend private school. After Eddie witnesses a scuffle in an alley, the police, led by surly Detective Bovano, are impressed when Eddie uses his photographic memory to sketch the perpetrator perfectly. Promising wages and to fund Eddie's schooling, the police hires the 11-year-old to visit museums and identify disguised members of the Picasso Gang, art thieves wreaking havoc on Museum Mile. Since Detective Bovano won't release specific information on the long-open case or give him a weapon, Eddie taps the expertise of his highly intelligent, obsessive-compulsive best friend Jonah, who schemes alongside him. In Wells's lighthearted, voice-driven debut novel, first in a planned series, Eddie never truly seems in danger, but his audacity and persistence, a clever mystery that unfolds atmospherically, and Calo's sly pencil portraits result in a fun sleuthing story. Ages 9–12. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–6—Twins Gustavia and Leomaris live fairly normal lives, so it comes as a complete surprise that their mother becomes mysteriously ill—because she's not really human; she's a Folk, part of a group of people who can turn into animals. Gus and Leo are about to turn 11, the age at which the Folk begin to Turn, and they start to notice peculiar things happening to them, like being able to hold their breath underwater for long periods of time. Their younger sister, Ila, is a selective mute and begins to speak for the first time. When their mother goes into a coma, the children learn that they are being hunted, and that their mother gave up her health and strength to protect them. What's more, they are the last of the Folk, and the only ones who can stop the Dobhar-Chu, the villainous King of the Black Lakes, from escaping his cave prison. The characters are complex and well developed, and the plot flows smoothly, apart from a slightly abrupt ending, and there is a great deal of interesting information about animals ("Killer whales are apex predators"). Raabe has created a rich and detailed world for fantasy fans.—Jessica Ko, Los Angeles Public Library

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