by Tim Binding
Random House, 2009. 340 pgs. Fiction.
How do the Brits come up with these wonderful stories? And how could we live if we had to wait for the packet boats to deliver them to our shores? Sylvie and the Songman is the beautifully imaginative tale of a young girl who must battle a shadowy, powerful enemy who steals the songs of the animals to get power over them. Sylvie's father, a musician and inventor, one day gets his unusual array of instruments to such a perfect pitch that they deliver an earthshaking blast--the One Note, apparently, to which all harmonies must yield. The Songman wants those instruments and that note, so he can subsume and control all the harmonies of life. But Sylvie and her friend George, a kite maker, don't know this until they have been chased all over creation by the Woodpecker Man, as frightening a creature as one might hope ever to find in a children's book. With the Woodpecker Man and his terrible bird minions right on their heels, Sylvie and George race to rescue her kidnapped father. Will Sylvie break free from the Songman's spell in time to save her father and the entire natural world? And will the already stricken animals get their voices and themselves back if Sylvie does arrive in time. Those questions and more will be answered in the thrilling finish of this beautiful, frightening novel, particularly noteworthy for Binding's richly-imagined "animalspeak." (Parents may want to review the book before turning it over to their kids, as it contains a few vividly violent scenes.)