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4.3 6
by Barry Wolverton, Sam Nielson (Illustrator)

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Barry Wolverton's masterful middle-grade debut, Neversink, is an epic tale of some very un-epic birds, a fast-paced and funny story of survival, friendship, and fish, in the vein of Watership Down and Kathi Appelt's The Underneath.

Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, home to a colony of odd-looking seabirds called


Barry Wolverton's masterful middle-grade debut, Neversink, is an epic tale of some very un-epic birds, a fast-paced and funny story of survival, friendship, and fish, in the vein of Watership Down and Kathi Appelt's The Underneath.

Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, home to a colony of odd-looking seabirds called auks, including one Lockley J. Puffin. With their oceanfront views and plentiful supply of fish, the auks have few concerns—few, save for Lockley's two best friends, Egbert and Ruby, a know-it-all walrus and a sharp-tongued hummingbird.

But all of this is about to change. Rozbell, the newly crowned king of the Owl Parliament, has long had his scheming eyes on the small colony to the north. Now Neversink's independence hangs in the balance. An insurgence of owls will inevitably destroy life as the auks know it—unless Lockley can do something about it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Wolverton debuts with a whimsical fantasy that does for Arctic waterfowl what the Redwall series did for woodland creatures. When a “Sickness” threatens the food supplies of the birds of Tytonia, the scheming pygmy owl Rozbell uses the opportunity to seize control of the Owl Parliament. He then imposes a hefty tax upon the nearby island colony of Neversink, forcing the resident auks to supply him with increasing amounts of fish and other supplies. Only adventure-seeking puffin Lockley, hummingbird Ruby, and scholarly walrus Egbert are willing to take a stand for their imperiled home. Set when “umans did not yet roam the Earth, much less rule it,” Wolverton’s story takes place in a world in which owls wear bowler hats, walruses write multivolume history books, and puffins cook. The author is a natural storyteller, giving readers a charmingly wry, offbeat tale that draws on mythology and intersperses a good amount of information about Arctic wildlife amid the story’s humor. Nielson’s spot illustrations, not all seen by PW, strike just the right balance between anthropomorphism and realism. Ages 8–12. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Maria Lamattina EdD.
Picture an island in the Arctic Circle, formed by a volcano, and inhabited by seabirds known as auks. The time is long ago, after the dinosaurs but before humans, and you would know nothing about it if it were not the walruses that thought about writing history instead of just relating it orally. Neversink is home to an interesting and engaging cast of characters. The reader meets Lockley Puffin and his wife, Lucy, from the outset of the book, along with Egbert, a walrus, and Ruby, a hummingbird. Fish is the favorite fare of the auks, and Lucy is famous for her fish smidgens. Across the sea from Neversink is Tytonia, currently the land of owls—auks were exiled after the Cod Wars. But there's a possible threat to the food supply of the owls of Tytonia, which leads Rozbell, one of the owl leaders, to look to Neversink and its fish supply as both a source of food and a platform for increasing his power and authority. If the auks hope to avoid being virtual slaves to the owls, Lockley will have to take action. What follows is a story described by the publisher as an epic and funny tale of survival, friendship, and fish. Neversink is much more than that. As one becomes absorbed in the struggle of the auks to retain their independence, themes of manipulation, domination, loyalty, and personal courage also surface. Although the novel is intended for middle readers, these underlying, more sophisticated themes also make Neversink an appropriate book for struggling adolescent readers. Reviewer: Maria Lamattina, EdD.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Lockley Puffin is an oddity among the birds of Neversink Island. Most of the puffins value stability and conformity, preferring not to stand out. Lockley has bigger dreams, and a reputation as a bit of an iconoclast. For one thing, he associates with non-auks, including Egbert, a scholarly but rather pompous walrus, and Ruby, a displaced hummingbird. Moreover, he has been known to question why the puffins have to obey obnoxious edicts from the Parliament of Owls from nearby Tytonia. Although the taxes and fees are a burden, Neversink birds live by the auk motto, "Don't Make Waves." But when evil and unstable Rozbell seizes power among the owls, the demands made on the puffin colony increase dramatically—and dangerously. Appeasing the tyrannical owl and his sinister minions doesn't seem to be working, but will resistance prove even more disastrous? It's up to Lockley and his two friends to save their island home. This animal fantasy makes some interesting points about social and individual responsibility and courage. Unfortunately, the writing style is often difficult to follow. The narrative varies in tone from arch comedy to ponderous mysticism and contains distracting dialogue anachronisms. For example, although the saga is set in a prehuman era, characters use the interjection "duh!" and the verb "off" in the sense of "kill." The action lacks focus, and there are many digressions and side comments that interrupt the story flow. Full-page illustrations appear throughout. For a stronger, more fully realized animal fantasy-world experience, steer readers to Erin Hunter's "Warriors" and "Seekers" series (both, HarperCollins).—Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Kirkus Reviews
When his family and colony are threatened by usurping owls and an unpredictable sea goddess, a plucky puffin learns about injustice and leadership by embarking on a perilous "spirit journey." Lockley Puffin and his wife Lucy live in Auk's Landing, on Neversink, an island in the Arctic Circle and an independent colony of Tytonia. Auks typically avoid making waves, and Lockely's a bit of a troublemaker, hanging out with officious walrus Egbert, and Ruby, a sassy hummingbird. Trouble ensues when Egbert invites Tytonia's owls to a party where Lucy serves delicious fish smidgens. Tytonia's new king, Rozbell, a tiny, power-crazed owl, sees smidgens as a way to control Tytonia by imposing a tax on all fish the auks catch, to be paid with Lucy's fish smidgens. The insatiable demand for smidgens triggers sea goddess Sedna's wrath. She withholds the fish, jeopardizing Neversink's survival. Forced to make some huge waves, Lockley undertakes a harrowing quest to appease Sedna. With history and myths reminiscent of Norse sagas, Neversink and its feathered denizens impart lessons in power, leadership and the role of "stories" in the guise of a fantasy adventure. Black-and-white illustrations highlight the avian theme. An unexpected hero and his amusing, devoted helpers entertain and inspire. (map) (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Barry Wolverton is the author of Neversink. He has more than fifteen years' experience creating books, documentary television scripts, and website content for international networks and publishers, including National Geographic, Scholastic.com, the Library of Congress, and the Discovery Networks. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Neversink 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Buried-in-Books More than 1 year ago
Neversink is an enchanting tale of a greedy owl trying to impose his will on an unusually complacent colony of birds-Puffins. Lockley and Lucy Puffin are most affected by his demands because Lucy is pregnant and the only one that can cook the fish smidgens he is demanding from the Puffins as a tax on their daily catch of fish. Lockley feels guilty because the owls never would have come to Neversink if he hadn't let Egbert the Walrus live on Neversink. Egbert invited the owls that live on the neighboring island of Tytonia to come to his party and taste Lucy's fish smidgens, but his real intent was to share knowledge. He had created a book and he wanted to share that knowledge with everyone. But what starts out so innocently leaves Lockley and the Great Auk fighting for their lives! Talking animals, mythology and adventure are sure to make this story one both kids and adults will love. Not too long, but with something everyone can take away from the book. The black and white illustrations are very expressive. Don't be surprised if a tear or two forms in your eyes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny, well told story with unforgettable characters. Wolverton is a great writer. I hope to see more books from him in the future!
book4children More than 1 year ago
This book is precisely the reason I love middle grade literature. It's like reading Animal Farm for kids. It is like everything and nothing I've read before. I loved it. Barry Wolverton built a beautiful, complex society of animals with history and heart. On the surface it seems like a simple story about a sadistic owl and the brave puffin that defies him, but there is so much more to it. It is a story of hardship, oppression, freedom, and courage. It is about standing up for what you know is right and sacrificing yourself for the good of society. It is about leadership and friendship, fear and loyalty. It makes the reader look inward and ask how much they would be willing to sacrifice to preserve their freedom and independence. Would you be willing to die for the right to live without oppression, or would you stand passively aside while your freedoms are stripped away? The imagery is stunning. The author did a fantastic job at world building. I fell in love with the island of Neversink and the animals that call it home. Highly recommended for kids ages 8 and up. Content: Light danger/suspense. Some animals die, but there are no gory details. I consider it clean.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookSakeBlogspot More than 1 year ago
Book Review (ARC) A really cute story that will entertain both young and old. Children will really enjoy the auks that are featured in the story, but the auks aren’t the only ones. All of the other little creatures are just as charming, good or bad, and no one can hold a candle to the duo of the walrus and the hummingbird. Two creatures that couldn’t be more different, but are two of the best friends an auk can have. Adults will be able to latch on to the story these animals are facing and the politics that come with it. The politics is the main part of the story, which I think will be over the heads of most children this book is aimed towards. I can see some of those moments as being hard to explain to kids, but some parents may love it for the opportunity for discussion with their children. Everyone will be able to appreciate the themes of friendship and family and the main character’s desire to always do the right thing. Lockley is an auk to be admired and he continually pulls through from his family and his colony. Luckily even when things are looking bleak for him – he has those wonderful friends to help him through it. My favorite part of the book was hearing how their world came to be, how they think that they ended up where they are, their mythology and their history. That makes for a wonderful story all it’s own. Reviewed by Jessica for Book Sake.