Breath by Donna Jo Napoli
(Golden Kite Honors)

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Salz is a boy afflicted with cystic fibrosis -- though in the Middle Ages in Saxony no one can identify it as such. Instead he is an outcast, living with his unfeeling father and superstitious brothers in a hovel outside Hameln. His grandmother has kept Salz alive by having him avoid the mead and beer commonly drunk by all and by teaching him how to clear his lungs.
When the townsfolk of Hameln are affected by a mold that grows on the hops -- poisoning their mead and beer -- Salz is one of the few who are unaffected. The mold's effect is hallucinogenic, and soon Hameln is in the grips of a plague of madness, followed by a plague of rats. It is only Salz who can proclaim the truth -- although it might cost him his life.

About Donna Jo Napoli

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Donna Jo Napoli is the award-winning author of many distinguished books for young readers, among them The King of Mulberry Street and Daughter of Venice. She lives with her family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, where she is a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College
Published May 8, 2010 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. 284 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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This fascinating Pied Piper bypasses the villain rehabilitation or feminist perspective common to most modern retellings;

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Teen Reads

In BREATH, readers will be immediately and powerfully drawn into the medieval town of Hamelin, where young Salz struggles with a serious and recurring illness (identified in the postscript as cystic fibrosis) while trying to help his farming family.

Nov 01 2003 | Read Full Review of Breath (Golden Kite Honors)

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