5.0 1
by Barbara Helen Berger
Having grown a pair of wings and felt the longing for the freedom of the skies, twelve-year-old Gwinna goes to the Mother of the Owls, who sends her on a quest to find the songs of the wind.


Having grown a pair of wings and felt the longing for the freedom of the skies, twelve-year-old Gwinna goes to the Mother of the Owls, who sends her on a quest to find the songs of the wind.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Gwinna, Berger ( Grandfather Twilight ; The Donkey's Dream ; When the Sun Rose ) has written and illustrated a magnificent fairy tale of wonder, beauty and power. Gwinna, an enchanted child with wings growing from her back, is given as a fosterling to a childless human couple by the Mother of the Owls. As Gwinna grows, her foster parents try to hide her wings, then refuse to honor their promise to return her, but the Mother of the Owl's magic is too strong for them and Gwinna is summoned to her true home. There she learns to fly and sets off on a mystical quest across the sea to an ice-capped mountain, where she fulfills a lifelong dream by carving herself a harp and learning to play it. No brief recap of Gwinna 's plot can do justice to all its subtleties or to its profound imagery. Berger tells her long tale in simple, direct prose that illuminates its allegorical aspects with impressive clarity while keeping the action and adventure flowing smoothly. This accomplishment is especially remarkable as Gwinna is Berger's longest text by far; in her earlier, shorter works, she has relied on her shimmering acrylic paintings to create the ethereal mood that is her trademark. Happily, Berger has not stinted on the pictures here either. Gwinna is graced with 18 full-page paintings, one two-page painting and many smaller insets and decorations that capture the action's high points. In the realm of children's fantasies, Gwinna compares with George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin and C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. With the publication of this story, Berger takes her place with the best talents in the field, past and present. Ages 6-up. (Oct.) .
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-- In this original folktale, a woman longing for a baby accepts help from the Mother of the Owls, then fails to keep her promise to give up the child. The debt is collected, and the little girl, true to her origins, has grown wings. As she learns to use them, Gwinna is attracted by a song coming from a magical mountain, and sets off to learn its mysteries. The familiar folkloric influences of Rumpelstiltskin, Sleeping Beauty , and other tales of quests, talking beasts, magical metamorphoses, and the use of traditional symbols are woven into Berger's story, together with an overlay of more contemporary ideals. The portrayal of the Mother of the Owls as a stern, but ultimately good figure is an interesting switch from the wicked fairies who usually make such bargains, and Gwinna's perseverance on her quest with the help not of a handsome prince but of a grandfatherly griffin are refreshing variations on ancient themes. The text at its best is poetic, even lyrical, but it lacks the spare language of the old stories. The first half of the story reads well, but once Gwinna sets off on her quest, the dialogue in particular shows a tendency to gush. However, the illustrations show no such imbalances. They range from small decorations to a lovely double-page spread, enriched with luminous color and movement that flows generously beyond the celtic margins. A book for libraries in which the demand for fantasy is insatiable. --Barbara Hutcheson, Greater Victoria Public Library, B.C., Canada

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.28(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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Gwinna 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago