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Annotation: A girl finds herself running through the forest at the edge of a village with no memory of anything, even her own name, and later learns that she might be twelve-year-old Isabelle, believed to be stolen by a witch six years before.
Catalog Number: #6151576
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition Date: 2008
Pages: 158 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-477-81662-3
ISBN 13: 978-1-477-81662-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2008003184
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
The day the old witch's cottage is burned by villagers, a child who doesn't know her own identity appears at Avis and Browley's door, and the couple takes her in. Convinced that she is Isabelle, a little girl that the witch had stolen six years before, Avis and Browley send word to Isabelle's parents that their child is alive. Isabelle's mother, Mady, is certain that the mysterious girl is her long-lost daughter. Father Frayne is hopeful, too, but bitter older sister Honey is skeptical. Surely this 12-year-old whom others claim to be Isabelle is an imposter! Twists and turns abound as Isabelle's true identity is revealed and her life increasingly endangered. Vande Velde, noted for her well-crafted riffs on fairy tales, has written her darkest yet, a story of greed, jealousy, and insidious evil that will haunt the reader for some time to come.
Horn Book
Twelve-year-old Isabelle has no memories of her past. Locals suspect she's the same girl who was abducted six years earlier, sister to an infant recently stolen by a witch. With skillful pacing, Vande Velde adds clues to the mystery of Isabelle's identity. Readers will enjoy watching each piece fall into place and discovering the story's true villains and heroes.
Kirkus Reviews
Vande Velde combines her trademark spookiness with some of the motifs of fairy tales—witches, magic, stolen children—to explore themes of jealousy and villainy. A young girl of about 12, who can remember nothing of her name or her home, is rescued from the forest. She is soon taken up by a mother who calls her Isabelle and who insists that she is the daughter who disappeared years ago. The same woman's month-old baby was taken by a witch just a day before Isabelle is found, and the connection between the events is cleverly plotted and revealed. The indeterminate, rustic setting of forests, small villages and pre-industrial technology, along with the sturdy and odd, old-fashioned names, add to the folktale quality of the narrative. Questions of identity and the nature of evil run throughout the introspective narrative as the girl struggles to understand herself and her relationship with the world—even as the selfsame narrative twists and turns its way to a satisfyingly devious conclusion. A quick read; taut and superbly suspenseful. (Fantasy. 9-11)
School Library Journal
Gr 58 A 12-year-old girl is running through the woods with no memory of who she is or why she is running. Her identity is up for speculation throughout the book: Is she a princess? An animal turned into a human? The missing daughter of a couple in the village? All of these possibilities seem to revolve around an old witch who escaped the village mob with a baby the same day the girl appeared in the woods. The woman and her husband are convinced that the girl is their missing Isabelle, taken from the village by the witch six years earlier, but their older daughter, Honey, is skeptical and even hostile in her reaction. As the tale unfolds, some even suspect that the youngster is actually a creation of the old hag who was sent for evil purposes, and Isabelle wonders whether she really wants to know the truth. This is a solid fantasy and mystery that builds in intrigue and suspense as more layers are added to the story. The protagonist's true identity comes as a fantastic surprise and will have readers looking back for clues even as they shudder at the chain of events that brought about her appearance in the woods that fateful day. Like the witch, Vande Velde weaves a spell around her readers with this well-written tale. Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Voice of Youth Advocates
A girl runs through the forest. As she runs, she realizes that she has no memories prior to running. She remembers running, although not why she is running or from whom or where she is trying to go. Nor does she know her name. Dogs begin chasing her and later she is found hiding in a tree. She is surrounded by dogs but is rescued by their owners who take her in and care for her bitten leg. From there, gossip travels until it reaches another couple who rejoice, believing that she is their daughter, Isabelle, who was kidnapped by a witch six years ago. They come and take her away to a new life filled with expectations and danger. Readers are left to fill in the blanks and figure out the clues to discover the girl's real identity. It is strange that the author starts referring to the character as Isabelle before the lost parents even enter the tale. The mystery of the kidnapped daughter fuels readers to discover the truth behind the family and the reasons for their odd behavior. The cover produces a spooky atmosphere that will make readers curious. Vande Velde creates a new twist on a fairy tale complete with evil sisters and filled with suspense, danger, and a longing for home.-Jennifer Rummel.
Word Count: 32,815
Reading Level: 5.6
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.6 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 125002 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 860L

The same day that the villagers of Thornstowe finally hunt down a witch with a reputation for stealing children, a 12-year-old appears in the woods with no memory of her past. Is there a connection between Isabelle, the girl who doesn't know who she is, and the girl the witch stole six years earlier? One of the few things Isabelle remembers is a chant that keeps running through her head: Old as dirt, dirty as dirt. Ugly as sin, mean as sin. Don't let the old witch catch you! Could Isabelle have been stolen by the old witch of the woods, or has she lost her memory as the result of an accident? And what about the baby the witch stole right before the villagers attacked? Did either the witch or the baby survive the fire the villagers set? "Isabelle heard no sound beyond the faintest shivering of leaves in a gentle breeze. No sound of pursuit. But surely something was wrong, or she would know who and where she was. So she resumed running. But it wasn't as effortless as before. Her worry weighed her down as she tried to list the things she knew--and found the list of things she didn't know longer by far."

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