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Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest
Cover of Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest
Suddenly in the Depths of the Forest
by Amos Oz
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In a gray and gloomy village, all of the animals—from dogs and cats to fish and snails—disappeared years before. No one talks about it and no one knows why, though everyone agrees that the village has been cursed. But when two children see a fish—a tiny one and just for a second—they become determined to unravel the mystery of where the animals have gone. And so they travel into the depths of the forest with that mission in mind, terrified and hopeful about what they may encounter.

From the internationally bestselling author Amos Oz, this is a hauntingly beautiful fable for both children and adults about tolerance, loneliness, denial, and remembrance.

In a gray and gloomy village, all of the animals—from dogs and cats to fish and snails—disappeared years before. No one talks about it and no one knows why, though everyone agrees that the village has been cursed. But when two children see a fish—a tiny one and just for a second—they become determined to unravel the mystery of where the animals have gone. And so they travel into the depths of the forest with that mission in mind, terrified and hopeful about what they may encounter.

From the internationally bestselling author Amos Oz, this is a hauntingly beautiful fable for both children and adults about tolerance, loneliness, denial, and remembrance.

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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    6.3
  • Lexile:
    1260
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    5

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About the Author-
  • Amos Oz is a prizewinning novelist and essayist whose work has been translated into more than forty languages. His honors include the Prix Femina, the Israel Prize, the Frankfurt Peace Prize, and the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters. His memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, received the Koret Jewish Book Award in 2005. He lives in Arad, Israel.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 31, 2011
    Oz's slim but beautiful fable adroitly addresses the nature of hope and despair, filtered through a lens of societal trauma and conformity. In a remote village, all the animals—from the wild fish, birds, and game to domesticated pets—vanished many years ago. Now, the village's children barely remember animals, scoffing at the adults who talk about them, and the threat of Nehi the Mountain Demon keeps the villagers—children and adults alike—locked away in fright. When two children, Matti and Maya, think they spot a fish in the river, they set off on an adventure that leads them into the mountains, to a secret garden, and to a revelation about what really happened to the animals. Oz (Soumchi) presents many melancholy characters, from schoolteacher Emanuella (who lost her cat as a child) to elderly Ginome, living as an invalid since the animals vanished. But it's the conformity of the schoolchildren—which they learned from their parents—that presents the real horror of this story. It's through Matti and Maya's willingness to challenge everything that Oz channels hope. Ages 10–14.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2011

    Matti and Maya live in a remote village in which there are no animals. Not a dog, cat, cow or bird; not fish nor bug nor worm. Did Nehi the Demon curse the village, and is he still a menacing presence? A collective wall of silence has been erected, reflecting a willful, selective memory. The community has a dynamic of bullying and cruelty, so those few that do speak of it are vilified and have retreated into bizarre eccentricity. Matti and Maya have actually seen a fish, sensed a bird in flight and had other experiences that gave them the impetus to search out the answers. Oz takes this dark, strange, otherworldly tale many layers deeper. Although the language is lovely, with many striking images, it is also often esoteric and obscuring. The narrator is an omniscient observer who tends to sermonize. Repetition and reiteration are deliberately employed, with several bits of plot and character descriptions reappearing almost word for word throughout the work. Even Matti and Maya often feel a sense of déjà vu. They might forget again, or they might break the cycle. Is the work fantasy, fable or allegory? In the end, after all the strangeness, the moral is rather obvious, but maybe young readers need to hear it. Flawed, but intriguing and unusual. (Fiction. 10-14)

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2011

    Gr 5-9-In a gloomy isolated village in the mountains, all of the animals have disappeared, carried off by Nehi the Mountain Demon. The village children are warned against going out at night, and parents lock their doors and windows with iron bolts when the sun goes down. Emanuella the Teacher describes different domestic and forest creatures to her students, but the adults won't talk about the night a curse befell the village and what they did to provoke the animals' disappearance. After years without a single dog, fish, cow, bird or insect inhabiting their small town, two children set out into the forest to discover what or whom the strangeness is really about, and learn powerful lessons about collective acquiescence, loneliness, tolerance, and redemption. Oz has created a fable that is both enchanting and didactic, fanciful and overbearing, seemingly short and yet too long. The rich fairy-tale language is a strong enticement (even in translation), and the story is populated with compelling iconic characters such as Almon the Fisherman, now a farmer because there are no fish, and Little Nimi, a runny-nosed boy whose gapped teeth and strange dreams cause the other children to ridicule and ultimately shun him. Certainly an author of this caliber is worth reading, but there is a heaviness to this work that slows the narrative down. Recommended, albeit with reservations, for beautiful language and the potential to spark a meaningful conversation about kindness, tolerance, and collective responsibility.-Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library

    Copyright 2011 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    February 15, 2011
    Grades 4-7 A thinly veiled threat hangs over the heads of the people in Maya and Mattis village. All the animals disappeared decades ago, and it is rumored that anyone caught outside at night by Nehi the Demon will be spirited away to his dark castle high in the mountains. With the timeless pluck of child heroes, Maya and Matti ignore warnings of the forests dangers (Every bush could be plotting to trap you. Every rock might be hiding something that is not a rock behind it) and set out to find what happened to the animals. They dont find the demon theyre expecting, however, but rather a reflection of the injustice of creating outcasts in ones community and a message of tolerance to bring back home. In this swiftly moving fable (originally published in Israel in 2005), Oz creates palpable tension with a repetitive, almost hypnotic rhythm and lyrical language that twists a discussion-provoking morality tale into something much more enchanting. For an enhanced experience, try reading this delicately eerie story aloud.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

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