You might have read that Anne Ursu's book BREADCRUMBS is on my Special, Special shelf along with some other very special books. When I read it, it was like going back to my childhood, sitting among my favorite books and stories and having them shaken up and told with fresh words, but still comforting and familiar. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. And now, Anne Ursu brings her incredible talent with words to us in The Real Boy. They say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I'll let the below picture speak to you and even give you an excerpt. Then you might want to go ahead and get your copy of The Real Boy. You're gonna want your own. And a Special, Special shelf.
The Glass House
All artwork copyright © 2013 by Erin McGuire
They got to the edge of the forest, and though Oscar willed himself to walk right out of the Barrow as if it were nothing at all, his body refused to listen. He stopped.
“Are you all right?” Callie asked.
“Yes,” Oscar said firmly. He shut his eyes, took a deep breath, and stepped through into the open air.
Suddenly, Callie took in a great gasp, like she was sucking in the world.
Oscar’s eyes popped open.
The gardens were wrecked. A huge swath ran through them, a tumble of soil and green, all in the wrong order, like a giant scar. The swath began at the edge of the gardens closest to the forest and ran all the way to—
The glass house. Or what remained of it. The glass house had broken. Shattered. Half of it stood—one complete wall, and two half walls, great splintered shards threatening the air. The rest was in glittering piles that spread all over the gardens as if for decoration.
Oscar found himself running, tripping over plants—angelica, anise, arrowroot—following the scar toward the great glass building and all the treasures within.
It seemed like something had smashed into one of the walls, brought it down and half the house with it. Only a part of the roof remained—cracks and jagged edges. It looked like the sky had broken.
He ran into what was left of the house, his boots crunching bits of glass. The entire southwest corner was destroyed—glass and clay and wood and soil everywhere. And tiny bits of plants here and there, like leaves a cat had chewed up and spit out. But just bits: that was all that was left. Two years’ worth of imported plants—the world’s bounty, carefully cultivated, tended to, watched over, loved—were just gone. The surviving plants seemed to be withering, cowering, trying to fold back within themselves.
Oscar stood in the wreckage, trembling. He could hear the glass shattering, feel it falling on his skin, as if it were happening to him right now. It rattled his bones, troubled his blood. All he could see was the sky from his dreams, the hungry monster devouring everything in front of it.
Footsteps behind him. A presence next to him. Callie.
“What is this? What happened? Who could have done this?”
It was Callie’s voice. She was right there, he knew she was right there, but her voice sounded like it was coming from across the Barrow.
“Oscar—” Callie suddenly turned and put her hand on Oscar’s shoulder. He looked down, but not before catching a glimpse of her eyes. They were watery and wide, like sad moons. “Oscar,” she said, her voice as firm as her hand, “say something. Can you say something?”
Wolf in bits all over again, the house in bits in front of his eyes, Oscar in bits scattered everywhere. Everything in bits, and nothing could be put together again.
“Oscar,” she said, “we need to leave. We’re going to go back to the shop, and we’ll figure this out. But I think we should go. I think we should go now.”
She sounded so far away, but she was right there, in arm’s reach, pulling him back toward her, pulling him away. He should stop, he knew he should stop, pick out every green bit and try to save it; it would take him days upon days, but he could do it—
But Callie was pulling him away, and all Oscar could do was go with her.
Anne Ursu is the author of Breadcrumbs, which was acclaimed as one of the best books of 2011 by The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Amazon.com and the Chicago Public Library. It was also an IndieBound Next List Pick, an NPR Backseat Book Club featured selection, and received four starred reviews. Anne lives in Minneapolis with her son and three cats. You can visit her online at www.anneursu.com.
On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city that was saved by the magic woven into its walls from a devastating plague that swept through the world over a hundred years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow. Oscar spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master's shop, grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar's world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.
But it's been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it.
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There is also a giveaway sweepstakes going on the Walden Pond Facebook Page for over $300 worth of books. Sound like something you might want to enter? Then just pop over on the rafflecopter form and enter. Double bonus, right? Your welcome! (I actually have nothing to do with it. Thank the fabulous Kellie at Walden Pond Press. Do thank her. Seriously! She gives away all these books and does all the fabulous tours and giveaways and social media. She's a machine but entirely human. Never forgets to ask about my kids. Great person! Thank you Kellie!!)