Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst.

This book is a great twisty ride through fairy tales.  Julie has a secret under her bed, a huge mass of vines called the Wild.  Julie is sick of living with fairy tales all around her.  Her mother, Rapunzel is always catering to the seven dwarfs.  Her brother, Puss-in-Boots, is only interested in finding a girlfriend.  It would be hard enough being a normal kid in junior high, but Julie has all sorts of additional pressures because of her family.  When someone makes a wish at the guarded wishing well, it releases the Wild which begins to grow and absorb Julie’s entire town.  Because Julie is one of the only people who understands the dangers but is not part of a story, it falls to her to save her family in the Wild.

The writing here is straight-forward and welcoming.  I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of a modern teen into the frightening and often horrifying world of fairy tales.  Particularly nice is the use of the real versions of tales where people are eaten, maimed, and murdered, rather than the sugar-coated versions we often feed our children.  Julie is a wonderful heroine, filled with spunk, humor and angst.  Her reluctance to be a hero is wonderfully portrayed as are all of the little fairy tale touches. 

Recommended highly for tweens, especially those who enjoy some fantasy.  I would also recommend it to older elementary children in grades 4-6.  There is nothing particularly “teen” in the book except the protagonist’s age, making it a perfect gateway book to teen novels.