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Wild Things Hardcover – May 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 6
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2010
  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Front Street, Incorporated; Second printing edition (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590786270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590786277
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,236,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Eleven-year-old Zoë is a survivor. Her fiery independence has seen her through a series of adults who “don’t stick,” and she trusts no one, including Uncle Henry, who has just taken her in after the death of her neglectful mother. Henry is a renowned sculptor of what Zoë skeptically calls “wild things.” Other wild things slip through Henry’s North Carolina woods unnoticed until Zoë’s arrival catapults them into the spotlight, with life-changing consequences for everyone. In her debut novel, Carmichael gives a familiar plot fresh new life in this touching story with a finely crafted sense of place. Zoë’s first-person narration alternates with the observations of a feral tomcat who provides hints to the past, and an array of well-drawn eccentric characters add additional sparkle to the magic-touched story. Zoë’s fierce, funny voice is compelling, whether she is describing tense standoffs or moments of rare vulnerability that go straight to the heart. Carmichael uses a sure, light touch to portray the gradual blooming of trust among the story’s many wild things in this satisfying tale. Grades 5-8. --Lynn Rutan

Review

* "... Strongly drawn characters - Zoe, Henry and the people in their small town - come alive on the pages of this debut novel...A tribute to the power of story, this is ultimately a tale of hope and redemption. Zoe Royster, peer to the literary heroines she so loves, is as memorable in her own way as the Great Gilly Hopkins, Opal Buloni and Anne Shirley." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"It's hard to resist the voice of 11-year-old narrator Zoe, who stars in Carmichael's (Bear at the Beach) swiftly-paced first novel, alongside a supporting cast of eccentric characters nearly as wild as she...[The] cluster of quirky, winning characters will feel like a throng of old friends by story's end." --Shelf Awareness

"... Carmichael's a smooth and evocative stylist, and the classic elements of the orphan story retain their appeal as Zoe begins to come to terms with her sad past in the face of her loving present...Zoe...is at times a new-millennium Shirley Temple in her relentlessly adorable moppetry..." --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Carmichael's a smooth and evocative stylist, and the classic elements of the orphan story retain their appeal as Zoe begins to come to terms with her sad past in the face of her loving present...Zoe...is at times a new-millennium Shirley Temple in her relentlessly adorable moppetry. --The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

It's hard to resist the voice of 11-year-old narrator Zoë, who stars in Carmichael's (Bear at the Beach) swiftly-paced first novel, alongside a supporting cast of eccentric characters nearly as wild as she. A feral black-and-white cat, for example, whose perspective unfolds through an occasional third-person narrative (and fills in some of the characters' background), suspects human beings just as much as Zoë does. Their reluctance to trust and their gradual softening (the feline for Zoë, and Zoë for her uncle) run in tandem. Despite her age, Zoë's had enough life experiences to fill the memoir she's started writing. Her mentally unstable mother went from man to man before finally taking her own life--which is how Zoë wound up with Uncle Henry Royster, the half-brother of the father she never met who's also deceased. The girl and her uncle's matching gap-toothed smiles and red hair attest to their common DNA; they also share a rather prickly independent-minded personality. But as time goes on, they grow quite fond of each other. Zoë, who always found refuge in the library, warms to Henry's book collection ("Next to animals, I loved books more than anything"), and she rethinks her initial impression of her fifth-grade teacher, Ms. Avery ("dumb as petunias"), when the woman starts leaving books for Zoë and gives her time and space in the back of the room during the school day. Carmichael portrays a small Southern town with its requisite busybodies and odd personalities as well as a history of social dynamics that stretches back at least a generation. A rundown cabin in the woods and a mysterious white deer with an evasive companion introduce additional intrigue that helps Zoë to discover who she is in the world, both literally and figuratively. At times, the third-person sections focused on the cat (whom Zoë names Mr. C'mere) feel intrusive, but the relationship between the cat and the heroine is so essential to Zoë's development that readers will likely overlook this narrative device. This cluster of quirky, winning characters will feel like a throng of old friends by story's end.--Jennifer M. Brown --Shelf Awareness

More About the Author

Booklist said of award-winning author-illustrator Clay Carmichael's new novel "Brother, Brother": "[A] character-driven work that rides on the compassionate nature of the protagonist, set in a richly described landscape of sand and sea. Carmichael makes a powerful case for the influence of a loving family, be it blood relatives or family of choice. She has an ear for teen dialogue and captures the teasing energy of flirtation as well as the jocular, determinedly unsentimental exchanges of young men. With a road trip, family secrets, and romance, there's a pleasing fullness and symmetry that should draw readers."

Her previous novel "Wild Things" was a 2010 American Library Association Notable Book, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book of 2009, winner of the 2009 North Carolina Juvenile Literature Award and a National Association of Parenting Publications Gold Award (NAPPA). Carmichael lives and works in Carrboro, North Carolina with her husband, sculptor Mike Roig. She teaches writing and illustrating and gives talks about about her publishing process and the exotic life of the author. Her books are available in many languages. More about Clay: www.claycarmichael.com & www.wincbooks.com

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
I highly recommend this book for young readers.
B. Youngblood
In spite of the characters still trying to find their way in the world, no one in their right mind would say this book is in need of a sequel.
E. R. Bird
This is primarily a story of courage, of fears and fearlessness, of hope.
Lucie P. Branham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on June 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In WILD THINGS, protagonist Zoe no longer trusts anyone. Both her parents have now left her; her father left at an early age, and now her mother, an irresponsible mother and slob, has died. As a result of her traumatic, unbelievably self-sufficient childhood, Zoe trusts only herself.

To begin, Zoe goes to live with her uncle, Dr. Henry Royster, a surgeon. In his house she finds massive sharp metal sculptures dangling in a room, as she finds out her uncle is a famed sculptor. Though reluctant to trust Henry because everyone else in her life has failed her, Zoe finds much in common with him, especially their equally broken hearts.

All the while, Zoe meets a cast of friendly, curious characters who are loyal to Henry and begin to mend her heart, along with a wise cat and a mystical boy in the nearby forest. Zoe's curiosity, as she explores the woods, leads to adventure, heroism, and more as she unmasks the boy's identity, defiles a local lie, and more through her Wild Spirit. The tale of WILD THINGS is a wondrous page-turner.

What a phenomenal debut book by Ms. Carmichael. Throughout the story, I was stunned by the depth of the characters, and how I truly connected with many of them. My favorite part was the added perspective of the narrative of the wild cat, which adds an excellent dimension to this book. Carmichael, inspired by her actual husband, also a metal artist, skillfully weaves this story and interesting characters together to create the masterpiece that is WILD THINGS.

A must-read for all readers!

Reviewed by: Andrew S. Cohen
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By B. Payne on July 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wild Things is an amazing, well-written book, as engaging and thoughtful a read for adults as for children. Clay Carmichael does a fantastic job with character development, and I highly recommend this novel for all ages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on April 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was immediately engrossed in this novel about a young girl raised by a mentally ill mother and a succession of boyfriends. When her mother commits suicide before the start of the book, she is adopted by an uncle she didn't even know existed, a relative on her father's side of the family. This uncle is a world-famous heart surgeon and sculptor (an unusual combination but utterly believable in this context) who like our protagonist, Zoe, has a broken heart, having lost his beloved wife to cancer. Adding to the mix are a number of eccentric characters, in the tradition of novels such as Because of Winn Dixie, including a stray cat who Zoe somewhat predictably tames by the end of the novel. We see the story both through Zoe's eyes and through the eyes of the cat, who observes everything going on in the small town. The Wild Things referred to in the title applies to a variety of multi-layered characters in the novel, including a mysterious albino fawn, a strange boy who lurks in the woods, Zoe's uncle's strange sculptures, and Zoe herself. This is a perfect book for those who enjoyed stories of prickly young girls such as The Great Gilly Hopkins.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darcy Wishard on June 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Eleven-year-old Zoe trusts no one. Her father left before she was born. Her irresponsible mother left her mostly on her own. When her mother suddenly dies, Zoe goes to live with her uncle, former surgeon and famed metal sculptor, Dr. Henry Royster. She's sure Henry will fail her as everyone else has.

After having more step-dad's than she can remember, Zoe is pretty sure she has most guys figured out. They hang around until they have no use for you anymore or their just plain tired of being around you. With her uncle Henry's gruff demeanor, she hasn't quite figured out which one will have her packing first. The thing is, every time Zoe thinks she has Henry figured out he does something to surprise her, something nice and thoughtful. Plus, there are all a lot of people who like Henry. His handyman Fred and his wife Bessie, the local sheriff, and even the Padre from the local church. There is plenty of verbal sparring as both Henry and Zoe learn to trust each other, neither of them willing to have their hearts broken again. As the story progresses you can truly see through actions more than words how they are slowing healing each other and becoming closer and closer each day.

Zoes real adventure begins when she finds an abandoned cabin in the woods that looks like someone used to live there and left it filled with some of their most prized possessions. Every time she heads to the cabin she senses someone, or something out there and a few times catches a glimpse of a pure white, ghost-like doe traipsing throught the forest. When Zoe finds the doe and the wild child of a boy holding her, both staring down the barrell of a shotgun, she puts herself between the pair and the hunter staring them down. Who is this boy and what does he have to do with the cabin in the woods?
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carol Baldwin on January 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A stray cat. An orphaned pre-teen girl. A heart surgeon turned metal sculptor. A young boy rejected by his domineering father. A wild homeless boy and his albino deer. Mix these all together and what do you have? If you're author/illustrator Clay Carmichael, then you have the beautiful 2010 ALA Notable book, Wild Things. Some books are meant to be savored, read slowly and enjoyed page by page. This is one of them.

The story is about kindred spirits who are in some way, in need of home and family. The cat, Mr. C'mere, senses that Zo', unlike other humans, can be trusted. In turn, Zo', who has been burned one too many times in her not quite-twelve-year-old life, learns to trust her Uncle Henry (the former heart surgeon). Henry Royster opens his home to a niece he has never met before, thus softening his own grief-torn heart. Zo''s nemesis, Hargrove, turns out to be a very different person than she first imagines, about the same time that she discovers a half-brother (Wil) and someone special he has named "Sister."

This isn't a book with every loose end wrapped up neatly with a "they all lived happily together" ending. But it is a book about acceptance and healing and one that may leave you wondering: Who really are the wild things? And where is the safe place that they might call home?

Read the book and enjoy.

(Recommended for girls and boys, 9-12. Boyds Mill Press, 2009]
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