A sim­ply stun­ning story told

Hastings Leader - - News -

His Name Was Wal­ter — Emily Rodda (Harper Collins, $25.00) Re­viewed by Louise Ward, War­dini Books

This chap­ter book for read­ers of about nine years and up com­bines mod­ern school ex­pe­ri­ences, fairy-tale and al­le­gory with just the right amount of spook.

Colin has re­cently moved to town from ru­ral be­gin­nings and is lonely and home­sick. On a school trip to ex­pe­ri­ence his­tor­i­cal set­tings and for­bid­den to use mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, he as­sesses his class­mates — the shy one, the gre­gar­i­ous one, the nerdy one. When the bus breaks down and leaves them in the mid­dle of nowhere with a storm com­ing, one teacher and most of the kids hike to the near­est cell phone re­cep­tion while Colin and a few oth­ers take shel­ter in the un­oc­cu­pied house on the hill.

Colin finds an old, hand­writ­ten book that at first glance is a fairy story. Colin’s artis­tic eye is drawn in by the il­lus­tra­tions and the chil­dren’s teacher sug­gests he read it aloud. Some­thing in the house has been yearn­ing for this book to be read… and an­other some­thing wishes the op­po­site. Wal­ter, a brave and ad­ven­tur­ous spirit was raised in a bee­hive or­phan­age and in the world a witch prophe­cies that he will save a life, right a wrong and die at the hands of an en­emy.

The au­thor of­fers finely ren­dered ob­ser­va­tions of peo­ple’s per­son­al­i­ties and mo­ti­va­tions. Noth­ing is as it ap­pears and Colin’s thought­ful watch­ful­ness en­ables the reader to sit with the chil­dren as the story is told, feel their in­ter­est and fear and how the story ef­fects the old house.

Wal­ter’s story is much more than a fa­ble and it leads us, with Colin, into a tale of twists, turns, loves, friend­ships and in­jus­tices and ul­ti­mately to an un­for­get­table res­o­lu­tion. His Name Was Wal­ter is a book to give as a gift and to talk about with friends.

Sim­ply stun­ning.

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