The Hermit Thrush Sings

The Hermit Thrush Sings

4.9 11
by Susan Butler

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In the tradition of Lois Lowry's The Giver, Susan Butler's futuristic first novel tells the triumphant story of Leora's refusal to conform to the rigid rules set forth by a tyrannical government.

Leora has a gift, and a secret. She can see things no one else can, but can only draw them with her one webbed hand.

Several generations have


In the tradition of Lois Lowry's The Giver, Susan Butler's futuristic first novel tells the triumphant story of Leora's refusal to conform to the rigid rules set forth by a tyrannical government.

Leora has a gift, and a secret. She can see things no one else can, but can only draw them with her one webbed hand.

Several generations have passed since North America was struck by a meteor that changed life forever. Now, Leora lives safely locked inside the walls of Village Three. Only the guards and croptenders are allowed out, where the world is said to be undeveloped and dangerous. Leora's heard stories of the ferocious birmbas — half bear, half gorilla — that resulted from the meteor. Mutants cannot be trusted.

But Leora herself is considered a "defective" with her hidden hand and gift. When she risks her life to free a baby birmba, she finds the courage to escape beyond the tyrannical walls without knowing what she may find.

Editorial Reviews

Ilene Cooper
*Butler, Susan The Hermit Thrush Sings
*Starred Booklist Review
"Several generations have passed since a giant meteor hit North America. Although civilization continues, things have changed. The Rulers keep a tight reign on the people, and their guards are especially suspicious of people such as young Leora, who has a mutation, a defective hand. When Leora rescues a baby birmba, a creature that is half-ape and half-bear and highly feared by the Rulers, Leora must leave her walled village and find the rebels who are working to overthrow the government. So begins an exciting, engrossing adventure by first-time author Butler. She creates a world that is both familiar and yet realistically different after a natural calamity. At the same time, she peoples that world with fully fleshed-out characters. It is not only Leora, part visionary, part child, who captures attention; secondary characters-even the birmbas-also add an impressive depth to the story. Particularly well drawn is Leora's nemesis, Wilfert, one of the Ruler's guards, whose sadistic nature Butler makes palpable. The book has two initial strikes against it: a boring, off-putting title, and a dust jacket that, though well executed, has little child appeal. However, children who open the book will find themselves caught up in a story that has surprises right up to its breathtaking conclusion."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Leora Moran lives in Village Three in Maynor, a nation under the control of the Rulers and once the state of Maine. It was Leora's Grand Nan, with her gift for drawing visions of the future, who predicted the Disaster--a meteor that struck the earth 100 years ago, creating new species and plant life (and perhaps responsible for Leora's mysterious webbed left hand) and setting the stage for the Rulers' dominion. Leora knows that something greater exists beyond the locked gates of the village, but stories of her father and sister's deaths by the dreaded birmbas, a hybrid species of bear and ape that lives outside the village walls, keep her from exploring. One day she finds a captive baby birmba in her basement, and the act of freeing him, combined with her growing awareness that she shares Gran Nan's gift, set off a chain of events that liberates more than just the birmba. Butler's debut novel holds few surprises (readers will see the big reunion coming), and rare are the details that give readers a sense of time or place (for instance, one character mentions in passing that there were once "traveling machines with wheels that went from village to village, faster than a galloping horse"). But events move swiftly, and Leora as an unlikely champion makes for a likable heroine. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Leora's stepmother has been unkind to her since the disappearance and reported deaths of her father and sister, Reba. Her stepmother threatens that Leora will be sent to the Institute because of her deformed left hand. The rulers of this future place, formerly the state of Maine, forbid people to go outside their villages. They have told them the furry creatures known as birmbas are dangerous and plants whose names end in an "a" are poisonous. When Leora frees a baby birmba, she flees for her safety and discovers the rulers have not been telling the truth. Leora has a special power in her webbed left hand that allows her to draw scenes from the future. Empowered and hopeful that Reba is still alive, Leora befriends the Spanish-speaking inhabitants of another village and learns where to join the rebels. Readers will enjoy the vivid characters, fast-paced action and chapter endings that entice one to read on. They will be fascinated by the relationship between Leora and the birmbas and will cheer the rebels in their cause.
To quote KLIATT's July 2000 review of the Recorded Books audiobook: First-time author Butler has created a captivating story about what the world will be like when the world we know has ended due to one of those meteors we have always worried about. The state of Maine is now Maynor, a country ruled by some pretty repressive folks. The story's main character, a girl named Leora, alert, questioning and different, has the "sight." She can foretell the future and she is physically different; she was born with fused or webbed fingers. When the orphaned Leora finds out her mean stepmother wants to send her away, she runs off to find her sister. This story has wonderful plot turns and interesting characters, both human and animal. There is no real violence or gore and the plot is not overly complex or philosophical, but this will satisfy a wide range of listeners, from junior high to adult...This reminds me of the work of Patricia McKillip and will appeal to [readers] who like imaginative futuristic fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Random House/Dell Laurel-Leaf, 282p, 18cm, $5.50. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Dona J. Helmer; Libn., Anchorage Sch. Dist., Anchorage, AK, May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Leora longs to venture into the Edgelands, but the village people are not allowed outside the Great Fence. They have been told that the gate is to protect them from vicious human-eating birmbas, but readers quickly ascertain that it is just as much about keeping the villagers in as keeping anything else out. In this post-apocalyptic world, the United States government no longer exists. As a result of the asteroid that hit Earth, some people, plants, and animals have experienced mutations; "deformed" people are usually sent to the Institute. Leora has webbed fingers on her left hand, and she lives in fear that her dead father's wife will send her away. When Leora frees a captured baby birmba, she becomes the target of the guardsmen and runs away, hoping to find her sister, who disappeared years earlier. She discovers that she has a way with the birmbas, and they help her on her journey. Realizing how many lies the people have been told, Leora becomes involved with a group of women who are planning an uprising. Naturally, the revolutionaries are triumphant, Leora finds her sister, and readers are left with the sense that many fences may be coming down. This futuristic story has many parallels to our history and the ways governments have tried to maintain power. Leora begins as a Cinderella-type character, but she quickly evolves into a stronger person. She is the only truly developed character, and the story is a bit predictable, but readers will be so engrossed in her fate that they won't mind. A page-turning adventure with a memorable heroine.-Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day School Middle School, Beverly Hills, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Butler's first novel has plausibility problems, but readers may be drawn to the characters inhabiting this post-holocaust fantasy.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.80(d)
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

This is Susan Butler's first young adult novel.

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The Hermit Thrush Sings 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much. I read it all the night we got it, I couldn't put it down. It was enthralling, I was brought in by the same idea as the Hunger Games, even though I read that series three years later, of a tyrannical government but the story took a whole different turn. It was exciting to see how Leora was changed during the course of the book. I can honestly say it was one of the best books I have ever read and I was very impressed with the way that the author was able to bring everything together in a way that was able to appease even the most finicky of readers
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
i think that the authers amigination made you picture a scene in your mind
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was on a canoeing/camping trip in the backcountry of Yellowstone with my dad and sister. We canoed around Yellowstone lake. Anyway, on the trip I read this book! it's was so wonderful I had a hard time putting it down! It grabs you from the beginning and doesn't let up until the end. If you haven't read this book yet you are miss
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book! It even better than the Harry Potter Series! This book has everything a book should have in it... It keeps youre eyes glued to the page. I selected this book for my Mother/Daughter book club... No one had ever read the book! After our next book club i think everyone will have a new favorite book!!!!!!!! I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book a lot because of everything that happens. I read it in 2 days because I didn't want to put it down and it was so good! I recommend The Hermit Thrush Sings to everyone who loves a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book held in it everything a great book needs.It has adventure,mystery,and fantasy.this is truly a great book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome! I usally don't enjoy science fiction with all its space and time capsules, but this has our future to a diffrent outcome. Leora and her heroric deeds and findings keep you glued to each word and eating up each sentence like it's your last meal. I love this book and really wish Susan Butler would make a sequel to it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have ever read in my life. I go to the library a lot and I have read a lot of books. This book told the story so well I felt like I was there. It almost made me cry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Hermit Thrush Sings is the best book I have ever read, and I read a lot! I think this book is even better than the Harry Potter series! I recomend this book with all my heart! Please read it and you'll know what I m