Considering this fairy tale won the prestigious 2004 Newbery medal, I was anticipating a class act story, filled with good conquering evil, and a satisfying “happily ever after” ending. What I found was a story oozing with tragic moral dilemmas, supported by a cast of unprincipled and self-absorbed misfits.
Certainly Ms. DiCamillo will capture a child’s attention with this witty, well-constructed story. But, she sure did supply a generous amount of social problems and moral complexities for a children’s book. The death penalty, slavery, lawlessness – this story is full of it, and the abuse of Miggery Sow, a girl beaten to the point of permanent handicap was over the top and disturbing.
Nearly every character in the book is immoral, committing various depraved acts such as betrayal, deception, robbery, revenge, thievery, and murder. I found but a superficial offering to atone for all the bad behavior. This kind of material seems very inappropriate for the intended age group. Best to pre-read this one and use your discernment.