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The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547792638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547792637
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-This delightful first novel tells the tale of Carly Bean Bitters, an orphan who only sleeps during the day. Living with an uncaring aunt, the 11-year-old is lonely until a violin-playing rat named Lewis recruits her for his moonlit musical trio. She meets a number of his friends who are in danger from owls that are suddenly hostile. She also encounters the dangerous Griddlebeast, intent on destroying Whistle Root Woods. It's up to Carly; her new friend, Green; and his granny to save the precious forest. Charming black-and-white illustrations add to the overall effect of the story, which will remind readers of beloved works by Kate DiCamillo and E. B. White. Pennell offers marvelous characters, incorporates a mythical story within the story, gives readers a suspenseful plot, and creates a genuinely creepy and amoral villain. It's all rather old-fashioned and quite lovely.-B. Allison Gray, Goleta Public Library, CAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Carly Bean Bitters, 11, lives with her elderly aunt in a ramshackle house at the edge of the Whistle Root woods. Carly is lonely because her “contrary clock” is reversed—a medical oddity that makes her sleep at dawn and rise at dusk. During the summer, she rarely sees anyone. If it weren’t for the rats, especially a musically talented one named Lewis, she would have little interaction at all. Lewis, Carly learns, is the last remaining musician rat because the owls have caught and killed so many of the others. Meanwhile, Carly is hearing strange stories about whistle root trees, but it’s only after her classmate Green Pitcher gives her a book with brittle, aged documents hidden in the middle that she begins to understand the significance between the trees, the rats, and the owls. The mystery unfolds piece by piece, and with Green’s help, Carly knows she can tackle it. Boosted by numerous black-and-white drawings reminiscent of those of Garth Williams, this is an enchanting, fast-paced fantasy in the vein of E. B. White. Grades 4-7. --J. B. Petty

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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The charming illustrations by Rebecca Bond perfectly complement the text.
Susi Gregg Fowler
Chris Pennell's first book, THE MYSTERIOUS WOODS OF WHISTLE ROOT, is a weirdly remarkable story of both simple and fantastic proportion.
C.A. Vance
This wonderful, magical book is suitable for all ages, from the very young to the very old and would make a great read aloud.
Kara Lynn Russell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mary Ann VINE VOICE on August 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This whimsical fairy-tale of a chapter book just shimmers with all the right touches. There is no wicked stepmother, but there is a neglectful aunt to tend the orphan. There are musical anthropomorphic rats with gorgeous names, and unnatural trees with friendly traits. No ogres, but instead a creepy griddlebeast with a wannabe owl's fashion sense. It all fits together to not be too scary--there is no blood spilt, and is perfect for the intended audience to read alone, or enjoy down to age seven as a readaloud. The illustrations are lovely pen and ink doodlings wrapped around the text in the margins at just the right spots. While gripping, it is not too intense, and it will be highly acceptable as a bedtime story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peony Blue VINE VOICE on August 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A girl who sleeps only during the day. A literal band of rats (and squash). Mysterious history books and trees that exist nowhere else in the world.

All of these make "The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root" an enchanting tale for young readers, and kept my attention (as someone who is definitely not mistaken for a child anymore), as well.

The story starts slowly, but development is quick enough not to lose young minds. There's a little confusion with the chapters here and there -- the format for storytelling changes, which is nice for variety, but if you're reading this to a child, he or she may be lost if they're not following along in the book with you. (Which they should be; the illustrations are wonderful and do add to the story.) It's more of a one-on-one reading book than a storytime book, for that reason.

That said, though, it's a complex story with great characters and an engaging plot, and well worth a read, no matter what age your birthdays say you are.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By delicateflower152 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root" is a story of fable, fantasy, and friendship. Christopher Pennell has created an magical world in which good triumphs over evil and in which friendship overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds. Throughout the book and as an integral part of the story, Pennell seamlessly incorporates life lessons and moral values.

The characters Christopher Pennell created are interesting, grow as individuals, and exhibit positive traits as they face their own problems and the greater disasters caused by the griddlebeast. Carly Bean Bitters, the main character, is a young orphan who has grudgingly been taken in by her aunt. However, Carly's propensity to sleep during the day and awake at night exasperates both her aunt and her teachers. Most of the time, Carly is left on her own; she is bullied or avoided by other children. One night, a squash mysteriously appears on the roof outside Carly's window. A fiddle-playing rat, Lewis, explains that rat bands must always have at least three members and that, until a third musician is available, a vegetable must replace missing musicians. Though it makes no sense, Lewis tells Carly that is the rule. Introduced to Breeza Meezy, the leader of the rats, Carly learns no one remembers the origin of the whistle wood trees and the Moon King. In the woods, Carly finds a red hat and a cryptic note contained in a white cradle. With the help of Green, a boy she meets in the school library, and his grandmother, Carly solves the mystery of the whistle woods and the Moon King; the reason a vegetable replaces missing rat band members; and the cause of her sleeping the day and waking at night.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C.A. Vance on September 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chris Pennell's first book, THE MYSTERIOUS WOODS OF WHISTLE ROOT, is a weirdly remarkable story of both simple and fantastic proportion. And when I say weird, I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. It's distinctly clear that the publishers felt very strongly about this novel because the book itself is beautifully laid out, making the purchase that much more worthwhile and enticing. The font displayed on the cover possesses a pleasing eerie quality which is repeated throughout the pages and rivaled by the various sprinklings of other delightful fonts as well as the surprising number of nostalgic illustrations. The care that was obviously lent to the book proves worthy, since the author keeps you intrigued throughout the entire story as to just what might happen next.
It's difficult to describe WHISTLE ROOT in a few words-there's so much content in the book that a cursory description feels like one might do this charming story an injustice. This is exactly the type of story you're pleased to see your young child read if you're trying to encourage their creativity because the imagination of the author is so well articulated and seemingly knows no bounds. Written in a manner that children will easily identify with, WHISTLE ROOT presents us with Carly, a unique young girl who struggles to stay awake during daylight hours. A seemingly unremakable child up to this point, Carly's nighttime life suddenly takes on new meaning with the arrival of a squash on her roof...and a few days later, a fiddling rat.
The book's exposition spends time introducing us, and Carly, to a world whose existence has gone unnoticed by the town of Whistle Root, though it has been there all along. This book does a wonderful job of taking the ordinary, and making it extraordinary.
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