4.3 6
by Barry Wolverton, Sam Nielson

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Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, whose jagged cliffs and ice-gouged rocks are 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

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Along the Arctic Circle lies a small island called Neversink, whose jagged cliffs and ice-gouged rocks are 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, is dealing with a famine on the mainland of Tytonia—and he 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.

Barry Wolverton's debut is an epic tale of some very un-epic birds, a fast-paced and funny story of survival, friendship, and fish.

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.
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)
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

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.32(h) x 1.03(d)
870L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Barry Wolverton makes his debut with Neversink, which grew from his longtime interest in arctic wildfowl and Scandinavian folklore. He has also written for National Geographic,, and Discovery Networks. Barry lives in Memphis.

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