THE FIRST TIME I SAW them, I thought they were angels. What else could they be, with their pale gossamer wings and the music that came off them, and the light that haloed them? Right away there was this feeling they’d been watching and waiting, that they knew me. They appeared in my dreams the tenth night after the baby was born.
Everything was a bit out of focus. I was standing in some kind of beautiful cave, with shimmering walls like white fabric, lit from outside. The angels were all peering down at me, floating in the air. Only one came close, so luminous and white. I don’t know how, but I knew it was a she. Light flowed from her. She was very blurry, not at all human-looking. There were huge dark eyes, and a kind of mane made of light, and when she spoke, I couldn’t see a mouth moving, but I felt her words, like a breeze against my face, and I understood her completely.
“We’ve come because of the baby,” she said. “We’ve come to help.”
Steve just wants to save his baby brother—but what will he lose in the bargain? Kenneth Oppel’s (Silverwing, The Boundless) haunting gothic tale for fans of Coraline, is one of the most acclaimed books of the year, receiving six starred reviews. Illustrations from Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.
For some kids summer is a sun-soaked season of fun. But for Steve, it’s just another season of worries. Worries about his sick newborn baby brother who is fighting to survive, worries about his parents who are struggling to cope, even worries about the wasp’s nest looming ominously from the eaves. So when a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams, offering to “fix” the baby, Steve thinks his prayers have been answered.
All he has to do is say “Yes.” But “yes” is a powerful word. It is also a dangerous one. And once it is uttered, can it be taken back?
Celebrated author Kenneth Oppel creates an eerie masterpiece in this compelling story that explores disability and diversity, fears and dreams, and what ultimately makes a family. Includes illustrations from celebrated artist Jon Klassen.
- Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers |
- 272 pages |
- ISBN 9781481432337 |
- October 2016 |
- Grades 5 and up
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Reading Group Guide
By Kenneth Oppel
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
About the Book
Steve loves his baby brother, Theo, but Theo is not well. Steve’s parents take Theo to the hospital almost every day, but they don’t talk to Steve about what is wrong with him. As Steve becomes more worried about Theo, he begins to dream about a wasp queen who says she can fix the baby. Every night the queen comes to Steve in a dream and tells him about events that are going to happen; she reassures him that the baby will be okay.
In the beginning, the queen makes Steve feel better, but, eventually, Steve begins to confuse reality with his dreams. As the situation with Theo’s health intensifies, Steve’s dream world comes crashing down—just as his reality comes into focus.
1. Why does Steve think that the flying insects who come to him in his dreams are angels? What type of insect are they?
2. Why is Steve so worried about his baby brother? What is his concern?
3. Why does Nicole name the mysterious caller Mr. Nobody? Why isn’t the family concerned about the stranger who repeatedly calls them?
4. Why does Steve’s father have to take him to the hospital? What is Steve’s reaction to his experience?
5. Why is Steve afraid when the knife guy knocks on the doo see more