by Christopher Pennell
a mysterious fantasy for intermediate readers who love a great story
Carly can’t sleep at night. It is impossible for her and this makes her life hard. It means she rarely sees the aunt she lives with. Being 11 she still has to go to school and trying to sty awake for the lessons is nearly impossible. Her teacher is not very patient and her classmates stay away from her because she is peculiar.
She is different, but that difference is what allows her to see and notice things no one else does. She sees the squash on the roof. She hears the music in the breeze and she has started talking to Lewis, her friend the rat. Lewis plays the violin. He asks Carly to play the horn and he shares the changes that are happening in the wood. Something is wrong – the owls have stopped dancing and are capturing the rat musicians. The cozy peaceful feeling of the wood and the town has been replaced by a sinister, insincere silence. And it seems as though Carly will be the only one able to collect all the pieces of the stories from the past to save the woods and the beautiful, magical whistle root trees.
I love how the idea of flying by being able to find the handholds in the wind. I think that stories of the past are important to remember and that tales may not always be “just stories.” This story is gentle and fierce, funny and serious all at the same time.
The book begins: “In a small town called Whistle Root, rats play music in the moonlight. They play on the very rooftops there. You can hear them if you listen closely in the middle of the night when there’s a slight breeze blowing. Who knows why they like breezes, but they do. And moonlight. You’ll never hear a rat playing music with out moonlight.
The music can be scary. It sounds as if someone left the radio playing in the closet. But if you’re brave enough to look in the closet, you won’t find any thing. And if you’re even braver and look out your window, the music will stop completely.
All of which leads me to the story of a girl named Carly who looked out the window of her upstairs room one night and saw a squash sitting on the roof.”
And from that beginning you’ll be carried off into the magic and monsters, the wonders and worries of Whistle Root.