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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."