Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Format: eGalley (courtesy of Netgalley)
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Publication Date: 2.18.2011
In a gray and gloomy village, all of the animals—from dogs and cats to fish and snails—disappeared years before. No one talks about it and no one knows why, though everyone agrees that the village has been cursed. But when two children see a fish—a tiny one and just for a second—they become determined to unravel the mystery of where the animals have gone. And so they travel into the depths of the forest with that mission in mind, terrified and hopeful about what they may encounter.
From the internationally best-selling author Amos Oz, this is a hauntingly beautiful fable for both children and adults about tolerance, loneliness, denial, and remembrance.
I found Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest very charming, and reminiscent of an old cautionary fairy tale. There are hints of mystery and fantasy mixed in, and the characters are young, making it perfect for older middle-grade students.
The plot is unique; it's different from anything I have read, and Amos Oz shows his skill by creating a message about life: that we should not ridicule those who are different. He also brings up a very important question about human nature...which I would include, but it would be a spoiler.
The book has been translated from Hebrew (I believe) into English, and there isn't a lot of punctuation (and no quotation marks) because of that. It was disorienting at first, but after a few pages, I discovered that it reads like it would be spoken by a storyteller: with inflection, whispering, and timing. I fell in love with the way the words fit together. Really, it is beautiful, and the perfect bedtime story.
My only reason for not giving the story five stars, is that I still had unanswered questions at the end...which I think was done on purpose, but I would have liked answers. Still, I recommend this book for middle-grade students interested in fables.
...you like animals, you are observant, and you dare to ask questions.
P.S. Don't you just love the title? It's very appealing, and applies well to the book.