The Green Man

The Green Man

4.5 2
by Michael Bedard

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Teenaged O – never call her Ophelia – is about to spend the summer with her aunt Emily. Emily is a poet and the owner of an antiquarian book store, The Green Man. A proud, independent woman, Emily’s been made frail by a heart attack. O will be a help to her. Just how crucial that help will be unfolds as O first tackles Emily’s badly


Teenaged O – never call her Ophelia – is about to spend the summer with her aunt Emily. Emily is a poet and the owner of an antiquarian book store, The Green Man. A proud, independent woman, Emily’s been made frail by a heart attack. O will be a help to her. Just how crucial that help will be unfolds as O first tackles Emily’s badly neglected home, then the chaotic shop. But soon she discovers that there are mysteries and long-buried dark forces that she cannot sweep away, though they threaten to awaken once more. At once an exploration of poetry, a story of family relationships, and an intriguing mystery, The Green Man is Michael Bedard at his finest.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Katie Mitchell
O (please do not call her Ophelia) realizes that her father had a dual purpose in sending her to stay with Aunt Emily. Emily, a poet who owns a quirky used bookstore called the Green Man, recently suffered a heart attack and needs some in-home (and in-store) help. Also, O is starting to feel the urge to write poetry and could use a mentor. As they settle into a summer routine, O and Emily struggle to keep the shop afloat, restart a poetry reading program for local poets, and figure out the clues that seem to foretell the return of a diabolical magician with murderous intents. The Green Man is a novel with multiple story lines and motifs that never seem to mesh. The strongest portions of the book are Emily's flashback-style dreams regarding the magician, but the reason for his reappearance and the ultimate battle feel unnatural and forced. Emily and O's interactions are alternately overdone (such as the ongoing argument about Emily's cigarettes) or arbitrary (such as how strongly O feels about the homeless boy she calls Rimbaud simply because they are both poets and how Emily has such a virulent dislike for him). The ghosts of dead poets inhabit the bookstore, and a brief scene alludes to a breached time continuum that is never fully explained. The Green Man is a sequel to the out of print A Darker Magic (Atheneum, 1987/Voya December 1987), and although it can stand alone, reading the first novel would perhaps provide a needed insight to the characters' motives and personalities. Reviewer: Katie Mitchell
Children's Literature - Renee Farrah Vess
Ophelia, known as O, goes to spend the summer with her elderly aunt, Emily, in the small town of Caledon. Emily owns and lives above a second hand bookstore that has seen better days. O's energy and fresh eyes help revitalize Emily's spirits and her store. The restoration gives O plenty of time to get to know the shop and start noticing its otherworldly features. She cannot explain everything that goes on, but once she discovers a nasty piece of history is about to be repeated she knows she has to prevent it. This is a must-read for aspiring writers or poets. The care that was taken to write this is evident—every page is steeped in perfect detail creating a story that has a consistently delicious tension. It is a fascinating and hypnotic read that must be experienced rather than explained. A great addition to the folklore of the Green Man nature spirit, this story features ghosts, dark magic, the supernatural, and above all the imagination of writers. Reviewer: Renee Farrah Vess
Children's Literature - Judy DaPolito
Fifteen-year-old Ophelia Endicott, who prefers to be called O, is spending the summer with her Aunt Emily while her father, a professor, does research in Italy. O has not seen Emily for three years, and she’s both uncomfortable and excited about staying upstairs over The Green Man, her aunt’s bookstore. Emily is a respected poet, and O is beginning to write poetry, too, though she’s unwilling to share it. Emily has recently suffered a heart attack, and since O has kept house for her father since her mother’s death, she willingly takes over the cooking and cleaning. The situation is also complicated by the quiet ghosts, all poets, who inhabit the bookstore, and by the flesh and blood spirits who enter O’s and Emily’s lives. A tantalizing young man, known only as Rimbaud, borrows poetry books and appears at times when O needs help. A magician shape-shifter terrifies Emily in nightmares as well as in the real world. Through a series of adventures that seem quite ordinary on the surface but contain increasingly dramatic supernatural elements, Emily and O come to rely on and care for each other. O writes more and stronger poetry, finally reading it to assembled living and ghost poets at the bookstore. Reality, magic, and spirits intertwine beautifully to keep the reader slightly off balance, but continually intrigued. Reviewer: Judy DaPolito; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—"Poets must believe in the possibility of the impossible." So says one of the characters in this quiet mystery, and the two main characters do indeed believe. Fifteen-year-old Ophelia, whose father is off on a business trip, is spending the summer with her elderly Aunt Emily, who has had heart trouble. The arrangement allows them to keep an eye on one another while minding Emily's tattered used bookstore. Although wary at first, Emily and O come to find that they are very compatible. They are both poets, both open to mysteries and to the deeper emotions in life. Ghosts haunt the store; Emily accepts them. As O comes to know and believe in Emily's ghosts, readers do as well. It all makes perfect sense that Ezra Pound would be lounging on the couch, petting the cat, and Mallarmé would be sitting on the staircase with his notebook. There is a mysterious magician, prophetic dreams, and a handsome stranger who may be more, and less, than he seems. Bedard writes with grace and wit, but also with deceptive ease-there's a lot going on, but it is all very clear. Poetry and the history of certain poets are casually integrated into the tale in a seamless manner. It is a mystery and a ghost story and a book about beauty, art, creativity, and taking chances. Patience may be needed, but is well rewarded.—Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Fifteen-year-old Ophelia, known as O, encounters the unexpected when she spends a transformative summer with her aunt, a poet and the proprietor of a secondhand bookshop called the Green Man, "where extraordinary things [happen]." After receiving a summer grant to study in Italy, O's father sends her to stay with his older sister Emily, "one of the finest poets of her generation." Though "always a poet, always a little odd," Emily's recent heart attack has left her even more "off-center." Emily's eccentricity concerns O, who has recently starting writing poetry. Arriving at the Green Man, O finds Emily frail and distracted. Suffering from debilitating angina and disturbing childhood dreams of an evil magician, Emily has clearly neglected everything. As O tries to restore order to Emily's disintegrating life and business, she falls under the Green Man's spell and is drawn irrevocably into the dark mystery threatening her aunt. United by poetry, O and Emily bond, and, by summer's end, O "joins the ranks of those crazy people who call themselves poets." This atmospheric exploration of what it means to be a poet offers memorable corporal and incorporeal characters, a realistic intergenerational relationship and a deeply rooted mystery connecting past and present. Ideal for those with a penchant for magic, mystery and poetry. (Fantasy. 10-14)
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR The Green Man:

"Mystery, fantasy, romance, horror, and poetry come together in this classic outsider story with sometimes shocking twists and turns that reveal heartfelt connections.... [T]he action is fast, and the simple prose is pitch-perfect...." - Booklist

"...This atmospheric exploration of what it means to be a poet offers memorable corporal and incorporeal characters, a realistic intergenerational relationship and a deeply rooted mystery connecting past and present. Ideal for those with a penchant for magic, mystery and poetry." - Kirkus Reviews

"Bedard writes with grace and wit, but also with deceptive ease...." - School Library Journal

"...[An] imaginative, gracefully written [story]...." - The Horn Book

"...Bedard takes full advantage of the genre's atmospheric creepiness and sepia-toned timelessness...." - Starred Review, Quill & Quire

"Mr. Bedard masterfully interlaces the real with the supernatural in these passages, evoking a sense of myriad magical possibilities." - New York Journal of Books

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Michael Bedard was born and raised in Toronto. His novels include Stained Glass, A Darker Magic, Painted Devil, and Redwork, which received the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year Award for Children. He has also written several acclaimed picture books, including The Clay Ladies, which received the Toronto IODE Book Award. His biography, William Blake: The Gates of Paradise and his picture book Emily attest to his interest in poets and poetry.

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The Green Man 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
When her father temporarily moves to Italy, O is sent to live with her reclusive aunt Emily--so that O can take care of her aunt after a heart attack, and Emily can take care of O. In her eccentric way, Emily encourages O to get in touch with her inner poet, and O helps out by cleaning up her aunt's dusty used book shop. However, there is a deeper evil that is creeping in to town...The Green Man was a very interesting specimen since it defies genres. In some ways, it's a psychological mystery, in others a fantasy, and in others magical realism. Its deeper message is to encourage the poets in its readers--though you don't have to appreciate poetry to enjoy the book. I think this book would be enjoyable to adults and budding young cerebrals of ages 10-13ish.
Buried-in-Books More than 1 year ago
I've always been intrigued by The Green Man. Most of the images I've seen of him were of a laughing smiling man, inviting you to share in his mirth. But The Green Man book store is buried, In books (absolutely no pun intended), in layers of dust, memories, ghosts of better days and of the poets of the past. When O's father goes to Italy to research his book on Ezra Pound he sends her to stay with her aunt. At one point it seems like she might have had a choice to go with him or go to her aunt's, Italy would have seemed to be the logical choice for a girl in her teens, but spending the summer in a bookstore isn't terrible either. However, O. is not expecting the mess of a life she finds when she gets to her aunt's house and store. Emily, as her aunt insists on being called, is preoccupied with something and the store and house is in complete neglect as is Emily's health. O. forces her to stop smoking as she can't stand it and Emily has just suffered a recent heart attack. And as the summer progresses, O. slowly transforms The Green Man from the past, into the present, keeping the ghosts of the poets alive, but removing the clutter and dust of years of stasis. Eccentric is what I'd call Emily. She's a poet, spent her life traveling around writing poetry never settling down until she found the Green Man. She walks around the ghostly figure of the poet Mallarme on the stairs that lead up to the apartment above the store. O. is startled at first, of course there is no one there, but she pretends and goes along with it. Her aunt also has no computer and piles and piles of boxes of books waiting to be shelved on the dusty shelves. O. notes as she goes to fix something to eat, "The fridge sat in the corner of the room, humming to itself and trying to look busy." (Kindle ARC) I pictured this rounded cartoonish refrigerator kind of buzzing with excitement hoping to be noticed. And it works because O. takes over the cooking and fills the shelves of the pantry and the refrigerator. No longer does she allow Emily coffee and cigarettes for breakfast. The story is told sometimes for Emily's point of view and sometimes O.'s, but no matter who is doing the telling, it is clear that things are changing. They are becoming more alike. Something is up, something sinister, not like a murder or a robber, but something darker that's playing tricks on both of their minds and O. is realizing that she is a poet, that in order to be, she must write. The paranormal aspects of this novel were somewhat confusing at first because Emily is in her seventies and you don't know if it's the ramblings of an old woman's memories or if it's something believable. But it lends a feeling of creepiness to the latter part of the book. It also joins Emily and O. in a bond as more than relatives, they have experienced more than that and they are poets, together. The Green Man is aptly named as "the doorway between imagination and creation." (Kindle ARC) This novel is very clean. It is perfect for anyone that loves stories about The Green Man, poetry, coming or age stories, three stages of life, supernatural/bizarre stories. So, pretty much anyone would love this story. I thought the writing was subtle in what it was saying, and poetic, but not cryptic. Anyone with any interest in poetry would miss out if they didn't read this one. Just to note, it is not written in verse. Just well written. Soft phrasing. Gentle nudges at what it's hinting at beneath the words.