the last Newbery book I read didn't appeal to me, this one was a completely different experience. Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk, was outstanding from start to finish, fully deserving of its numerous accolades and awards. It opened with a bang up first sentence: "The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie." Indeed, the whole prologue was absolutely breathtaking. I knew I was in for a treat and I wasn't disappointed. The writing sings and it is a song well worth hearing.
Wolf Hollow takes it's name from a hollow where they trapped and buried wolves in holes to reduce the threatening population. How appropriate as we meet a true threat to our young protagonist. Annabelle is a sweet, sincere girl who has no idea what is in store when she first encounters Betty Glengarry, an "incorrigible" youngster sent to live with her grandparents. At first, Annabelle is determined to handle Bettty's bullying on her own, but over time, realizes that she is in over her head. Still, Annabelle is plucky, intelligent, and compassionate. She figures quite a bit out on her own, without the help of grown-ups, something sure to appeal to young readers.
This book will stun and enthrall readers of all ages as they watch Annabelle lose her innocence and learn about the more difficult challenges of life. It takes on subjects of prejudice, justice, and mercy. Somehow the author manages to make readers feel empathy for both the bullied and the bully.
As Annabelle thinks on her plight, and the plight of Toby (another of Betty's targets), she wisely observes, "There might be things I would never understand, no matter how hard I tried... there would be people who would never hear my one small voice, no matter what I had to say. But then a better thought occurred, and this was the one I carried with me that day: If my life was to be just a single note in an endless symphony, how could I not sound it out for as long and as loudly as I could?"
The story ends just as eloquently. Annabelle declares, "The wind always swept my words away like cloud shadows, as if it mattered more that I said them, than who heard them." Thus, readers are challenged to live lives that speak into the darkness of this world, even if their voices go unheard. I am a better person for having read this book, and I think other readers will be, as well.