The Purloined Boy: The Weirdling Cycle, Book 1 Paperback – April 2, 2009
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This very competent work should appeal to middle grade readers and imagines a world in which children are stolen away from their families. Trapped in Superbia, where stolen boys and girls are watched over by guardians until they become food for the bogeys, Trevor wakes up in cold sweats every night from terrifying dreams. With the help of a spunky mouse named Zephyr and a clever girl named Maggie, Trevor escapes from Superbia and is reunited with Epictetus, a friendly slave from Superbia who is also a member of the Guild of the Sun-Eaters. After being pulled in two directions by guild members with opposing visions, Trevor finds that his greatest mission and adventures lie in the future. ...this jaunty outing -- and its cliffhanger ending -- could be just the beginning of Trevors story. --Publishers Weekly
From the Back Cover
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"The Purloined Boy" is a kind of parable (not an allegory, though it beckons an allegorical reading from its audience) about all that is wrong in our modern world—and how to fix it. It awakens us to the horror of modern education and its latent oikophobia—that is, the fear of home. The antidote? Oikophilia—the love of home.
In chapter 5, the doomed protagonist, Trevor, is in a waiting cell in the Sewage Works of Superbia, and he meets the “The Small Voice” he was promised to find and that he would need to follow. The Small Voice is a mouse named Zephyr. Zephyr allows Trevor three questions before they make their escape. Zephyr says, to quote from the book:
“I’ll only give you answers you already know.”
Trevor responds, “Questions, what questions? And why should I ask them if I already know the answers?”
“Good. That’s two out of the three, and they’re excellent questions.”
“Hey, I didn’t mean those to be my questions, I think.”
Ignoring this, the mouse went on, “To your first question—What questions? Good questions. You shouldn’t expect good answers if you don’t ask good questions! Now, to your second excellent question—Why should you ask them if you already know the answers? Because, my boy, asking helps you remember the answers! Here’s a bonus, I’m feeling generous today! Liking the answers takes work. It’s an acquired taste. That’s why so few people ask good questions. They don’t like the answers they already know.”
Trevor does have one question he desperately wants answered, and that question is simple. “Can I get home?” Zephyr’s response is to the point: “Yes.”
There is so much wisdom in this short passage. Every page flies by in this way, and nearly every page has a bit of sage wisdom—and hope. Hope even in the darkness of the cave. This book asks all the right questions, and through the magic of it’s story telling, shapes the reader’s moral imagination to not only like the answers to these “good, excellent questions,” but to love them deeply.
Do your kids a favor and buy this book for them to read. Do yourself a favor and read it to them…or read their book after they’re in bed. But beware! It will lead you to ask the right questions, and many are afraid of the answers to those questions. If that is something you’re afraid of, move along. As TS Eliot said, “Mankind cannot bear very much reality.” But your children can. And this book is an immersion in Reality, not in spite of but rather *because* it is a fantastic tale of the highest order.