STARRED REVIEW
October 06, 2015

All to save a little brother

By Jon Klassen & Kenneth Oppel
Review by

Steve’s family has just welcomed a new baby, so all should be well. But it isn’t. The baby—who disconcertingly remains unnamed for many pages—is very ill, with an undisclosed congenital disorder, so his parents are constantly worried, stressed and distracted. It isn’t until young Steve begins to have inexplicable and surreal dreams that his life begins to change . . . not necessarily for the better.

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Steve’s family has just welcomed a new baby, so all should be well. But it isn’t. The baby—who disconcertingly remains unnamed for many pages—is very ill, with an undisclosed congenital disorder, so his parents are constantly worried, stressed and distracted. It isn’t until young Steve begins to have inexplicable and surreal dreams that his life begins to change . . . not necessarily for the better.

The “angels” in his dreams tell Steve they can help the baby; all he needs to do is say yes to them. It sounds simple enough, but as his dreams take a sinister and unexplainable turn, Steve starts to question what is real and what is imagined.

The angels morph into wasps, which hatch a creepy plan to replace baby Theo with a new, healthy baby. But there are costs, and Steve soon decides he must try to thwart them. The story comes to a dizzyingly scary climax in a page-turner older children and even adults won’t be able to put down.

To say this book has “buzz” is both a pun and an understatement. The combination of a Printz Award-winning author and Caldecott Award-winning artist is synchronicity at its best. Jon Klassen is a master of dark illustrations, so his spare, creepy illustrations set the tone for Kenneth Oppel’s intensely creative text.

Comparisons to Neil Gaiman abound, placing Oppel securely in the realm of the master of Gothic and atmospheric tales. This is one scary—yet in its own way, touching—book. Readers will want to see more from this author, but they’ll never look at a wasp in the same way again.

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The Nest

The Nest

By Jon Klassen & Kenneth Oppel
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781481432320

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