Horns & Wrinkles written by Joseph Helgerson & illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

There’s a little town along the Mississippi River called Blue Wing. Twelve-year-old Claire lives there, along with her cousin Duke and lots of family who don’t think twice about believing in magic or trolls or pixies. They’ve all lived in Blue Wing long enough to hear the tales passed down. The folklore is more than just lore. So when Claire reports that Duke is missing, having grown a rhino horn and a Pinocchio-like nose, nobody seems too surprised. Shoot, the police department has a special procedure planned. And Grandpa, even though he knows better, manages to get himself turned to stone along with the others, leaving Claire to rescue her cousin while helping a few trolls along the way.

Horns and Wrinkles is a tale that requires a fair amount of openness on the reader’s part. Just like the population of Blue Wing, we’ve got to believe that eccentric river incidents are a reality. Each chapter begins with charming illustrations that foreshadow the chapter to come. The story reads like a modern tall tale, something rarely attempted and executed reasonably well in Horns and Wrinkles.

The main difficulties I had with the story involve the jerky transitions. I felt the author lost focus quite a few times and went rambling on unnecessary diversions. This is not to say that the plot was not well executed, it was quite swift and engaging. I simply felt there was unevenness in the transitioning between some scenes. This might be from the over-the-top nature of the tale. At times the fantastical seemed too much, like Lemony Snicket without the wallop.

I do think this tale would appeal to many young readers. It has several applications for classroom use: identifying elements of fantasy vs. tall tale vs. folklore, prediction and foreshadowing, as well as cultural and historical implications of the Mississippi Valley.

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Genre: Legend/Folklore. Age: 9-12. Pages: 368.

Themes: Strength of Character, Courage, Family
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin. Date: September 2006.
ISBN-10: 0618616799 / ISBN-13: 978-0618616794

Buy Horns and Wrinkles Here
© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti

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