From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6?From its shocking beginning to its pat conclusion, this novel combines a number of genres while developing the character of a lonely, insecure adolescent. Since moving to his father's ancestral home in the mountains, Dillon has made two friends?his uncle's old hunting dog, and Carol, a young naturalist. Suddenly Carol is killed by teenagers hunting a falcon illegally. Dillon, dazed and indecisive, finally leaves the dog with his friend's body and wanders off to look for help, taking the wounded falcon with him. In the darkening woods, with nothing but his grandmother's mysterious stories to keep him awake, he comes upon shapes in the shadows that emerge into talking creatures. While never quite sure if he is dreaming, Dillon accepts their help and works with them to defeat "the Face," a terrifying wind of fear and death. He comes through his ordeal a changed boy, with a deep respect for animals and a new sense of his own courage. Adventurers, environmentalists, and fantasy fans will be attracted by the book's imagery and power and will confront their own fears as they meet the Face. However, the strong writing and rich characters don't make it out of the woods; back home, the story flounders as it is quickly wrapped up with Dillon's parents' cool reassurances about what has become of Carol, the hunters, and the falcon. Despite the flimsy last chapter, this title is still worth booktalking to future fans of Paulsen and Tolkien.?Susan Oliver, Hillsborough County Science Library at MOSI, Tampa, FL
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4^-6. Thirteen-year-old Dillon witnesses the accidental shooting of his friend Carol, then gets caught up in a bizarre adventure when he journeys through an enchanted forest on his way to find help. Stunned and confused, Dillon gets lost in the mysterious woods, where he encounters a variety of talking animals who guide him to the right path. The long journey home takes all the physical and mental strength he can muster, as he is forced to confront his fears in the form of a ghostly phantom that exploits others' insecurities. Readers will find this an exciting adventure story, with elements of a survival tale, fantasy, and a psychological thriller. However, youngsters who are looking for help in coping with the death of a loved one won't find much here. Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Teribithia
(1977) remains the best book on that topic for this age group. Lauren Peterson