Set in 1960s England, this is the story of 11-year-old Maggie, who, because of her stutter and difficulties in school, is sent to live in the countryside with a grandfather she hardly knows. When she finds a snow leopard cub in the forest near his house, the magic and adventure begin. A wonderful debut that addresses our connection to the natural world and to each other. Charming, hopeful and powerful. —Holly— From Wildoak
September/October 2022 Kids Indie Next List
“Such a wonderful book on the magic of nature. I was brought to tears remembering what it was like to struggle in a world that couldn’t listen. I can’t wait for another generation of readers to fall in love with reading because of this story.”
— Revati Kilaparti, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, CO
When the fates of a snow leopard, a child, and an ancient forest collide, the unimaginable can happen. Perfect for fans of Pax and The One and Only Ivan.
**Winner of the 2023 Schneider Family Book Award!**
* "Nuanced and empowering." - Publisher's Weekly, starred review
* "Memorably atmospheric." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Immersive." - The Horn Book
Maggie Stephens's stutter makes school especially hard. She will do almost anything to avoid speaking in class or calling attention to herself. So when her unsympathetic father threatens to send her away for so-called "treatment," she reluctantly agrees to her mother's intervention plan: a few weeks in the fresh air of Wildoak Forest, visiting a grandfather she hardly knows. It is there, in an extraordinary twist of fate, that she encounters an abandoned snow leopard cub, an exotic gift to a wealthy Londoner that proved too wild to domesticate. But once the cub's presence is discovered by others, danger follows, and Maggie soon realizes that time is running out, not only for the leopard, but for herself and the forest as well.
Told in alternating voices, Wildoak shimmers with beauty, compassion, and unforgettable storytelling as it explores the delicate interconnectedness of the human, animal, and natural worlds.
About the Author
Christina grew up in the UK. She spent her summer holidays in Cornwall where she loved to climb trees and run barefoot along pebbly beaches. She loves the natural world and believes that stories, much like the roots of an ancient forest, are capable of connecting readers and listeners in essential ways. Wildoak is her first book. She graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English Literature and has since worked for a newspaper, taught literacy to children with learning differences and studied printmaking. She now lives in Maryland with her family and a dog who loves to eat manuscripts. You can learn more about her work at ccharrington.com
Praise for Wildoak:
Winner of the 2023 Schneider Family Book Award
* "Themes of compassion and conservation form the heartbeat of Harrington's eloquent 1963 England-set debut...Both character arcs sparkle with life thanks to Harrington's poignant, immersive prose...nuanced and empowering." - Publisher's Weekly, starred review
* "Harrington packs her memorably atmospheric debut with compelling issues, but her sharply felt portrayals of two vulnerable youngsters of different species bonding as they find their ways in hostile worlds will make the deepest impression. Tugs on ethical sensibilities and heartstrings with equal strength." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Harrington humanizes Rumpus with compassion but not preciousness, inviting readers to acknowledge his wildness but still recognize his shared experiences with Maggie. Beyond the well-integrated themes of environmentalism and animal conservation, the resonating factor behind the story is Maggie's connection to Rumpus, making this an easy readalike to Pennypacker's Pax or Earle's When the Sky Falls." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Maggie’s deep connections to animals and the natural world are her greatest strengths, enabling physical bravery and creative problem-solving. The theme of diverse varieties of communication braids the narrative together and deepens its impact. Generous back matter alerts readers to resources on stuttering, big-cat conservation, and reforestation efforts worldwide. Chapter decorations and the occasional pen-and-ink illustration add to the richness of this immersive experience." - The Horn Book
"This tender and hopeful story, with a whisper of magical realism, reminds the reader that everyone struggles with something. C.C. Harrington's prose is beautiful, and she writes with a deep affection for the natural world. Wildoak reads like a classic. I loved it." - Pam Muñoz Ryan, bestselling author of Esperanza Rising and the Newbery Honor Book Echo
"Wildoak is one of those novels that makes us believe the world may well be as mysterious and as lovely and as possible as we had hoped. Maybe we can speak to animals in ways we never anticipated, and maybe we can sense consciousness in places we had never imagined, and maybe deep hurts can be overcome--the hurts of war, of humiliation, of pride. The rambunctious and sometimes frightening and sometimes incredibly funny story of Maggie and Rumpus is a story of how we might connect more deeply and more humanly-and so it is a story of immense hope. Read it, and be enlarged!" - Gary Schmidt, Newbery Honor winning author of The Wednesday Wars and Just Like That
"This well-told story of a girl's stuttering journey leaps and purrs on the back of a beautiful snow leopard." - Vince Vawter, author of the Newbery Honor book, Paperboy
"This immersive read crackles with gorgeous descriptions and heart-racing action. Maggie is a fierce and kindhearted protector of the natural world. Her own severe stutter is thoughtfully and realistically portrayed as one part of the story's larger exploration of what it means to find the courage to speak for those who cannot by first discovering your own self-worth. Readers will cheer as Maggie and Rumpus team up to patiently guide them into a world of bravery and belonging they will never forget!" - Nancy Tandon MA, CCC-SLP and author of The Way I Say It
"In Maggie, C.C. Harrington has created a nuanced and complex protagonist. It is rare to encounter a character whose stutter is not portrayed as an obstacle to be overcome, but is instead an important part of her that is embraced and celebrated. Maggie is a relatable heroine who we can empathize with and be inspired by as we follow her trajectory from a place of pain and heartache to one of self-realization and fierce independence. Through it all, she stutters. Her stutter is part of who she is, but it does not define or limit her. We need more characters like Maggie." - Taro Alexander, Founder of SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young