"When wasps come to Steve in a dream offering to fix his sick baby brother, he thinks all he has to do is say yes. But yes may not mean what Steve thinks it means"-
Kenneth Oppel is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwing trilogy has sold over a million copies worldwide and been adapted as an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn won a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award and the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s literature; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller and was named Children’s Novel of the Year by the London Times. He is also the author of Half Brother, This Dark Endeavor, Such Wicked Intent, and The Boundless. Born on Canada’s Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Canada; in England and Ireland; and now resides in Toronto with his wife and children. Visit him at KennethOppel.ca.
Jon Klassen is a Canadian-born author-illustrator. He has written and illustrated the acclaimed Hat series, including I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, and We Found a Hat. Highlights of his illustrated books are Cats’ Night Out by Caroline Stutson, Sam & Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett, The Dark by Lemony Snicket, and The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse also by Mac Barnett. His books have won a Caldecott medal and two Caldecott honors and other international awards. He lives in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and son.
*Starred Review* Steven's parents just had a baby, Theo, but there's something wrong with him, and a pall of worry and sadness falls over his family. Meanwhile, a papery wasp's nest appears under the eaves of the house, just outside Theo's room, and Steven starts to dream of an angelic wasp who promises to fix whatever's wrong with the baby. At first, Steven is comforted by the wasp's soft assurances. But the wasp's plans grow more and more sinister, until they turn shockingly ugly: "before you know it, you'll forget all about that crappy little broken baby." In Steven's restrained present-tense, first-person narrative, the wasp's dreadful plan slowly creeps into view, while Steven becomes increasingly determined to protect Theo, even though it would be easier for everyone if he weren't sick or broken. The brilliance of Oppel's storytelling lies in his ability to seamlessly integrate the wasp's cruel beliefs about worthiness into Steven's own fears about himself. Steven, who has a therapist to deal with his anxiety, believes he, too, is broken, and it isn't until he understands the grotesque lengths to which the wasps plan to go that he accepts Theo-and himself-for all his imperfections. Klassen's eerie, atmospheric illustrations, all shadowy corners and half-concealed shapes, contribute to the spooky mood. With subtle, spine-chilling horror at its heart, this tale of triumph over monsters-both outside and in-is outstanding. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Printz-winning, New York Times best-selling Oppel and Caldecott-winning Klassen are a match made in kid-lit heaven. Expect ample buzz. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Steven must fight for his own life as well as for his baby brother's when he's offered a chance to exchange human life for something better. Steve has figured out strategies to cope with many of his anxieties and OCD behaviors, but this summer the pressure is on. Readers see through Steve's eyes his parents' fears for the new baby, whose congenital health issues are complicated and unusual. Readers may find parallels with Skellig in the sibling anxiety and the odd encounter with a winged creature—but here the stranger is part of something sinister indeed. "We've come to help," assures the winged, slightly ethereal being who offers a solution to Steven in a dream. "We come when people are scared or in trouble. We come when there's grief." Oppel deftly conveys the fear and dislocation that can overwhelm a family: there's the baby born with problems, the ways that affects the family, and Steve's own struggles to feel and be normal. Everything feels a bit skewed, conveying the experience of being in transition from the familiar to the threateningly unfamiliar. Klassen's several illustrations in graphite, with their linear formality and stillness and only mere glimpses of people, nicely express this sense of worry and tension. Steve's battle with the enemy is terrifying, moving from an ominous, baleful verbal conflict to a pitched, physical, life-threatening battle. Compelling and accessible. (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2015 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
THE FIRST TIME I SAW them, I thought they were angels. What else could they be, with their pale gossamer wings and the music that came off them, and the light that haloed them? Right away there was this feeling they’d been watching and waiting, that they knew me. They appeared in my dreams the tenth night after the baby was born.
Everything was a bit out of focus. I was standing in some kind of beautiful cave, with shimmering walls like white fabric, lit from outside. The angels were all peering down at me, floating in the air. Only one came close, so luminous and white. I don’t know how, but I knew it was a she. Light flowed from her. She was very blurry, not at all human-looking. There were huge dark eyes, and a kind of mane made of light, and when she spoke, I couldn’t see a mouth moving, but I felt her words, like a breeze against my face, and I understood her completely.
“We’ve come because of the baby,” she said. “We’ve come to help.”