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Elf Dog and Owl Head by M. T. Anderson
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Elf Dog and Owl Head

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Elf Dog and Owl Head by M. T. Anderson
Hardcover $18.99
Apr 11, 2023 | ISBN 9781536222814

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    Oct 08, 2024 | ISBN 9781536235166 | Middle Grade (8-12)

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    Apr 11, 2023 | ISBN 9781536222814 | Middle Grade (8-12)

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Anderson’s work is invariably funny and piercingly intelligent and never quite what you expect. . . His new novel, “Elf Dog & Owl Head," is a kind of inverted Narnia story: Instead of children stumbling on a portal to a magical world, a dog scampers out of a magical world and into our own. . . . One of the quietly subversive facets of this gem of a novel is the way it moves past the easy dyad that frames our world as a mundane wasteland and the other one as a magical paradise. Anderson writes as eloquently about the joys of reality as he does about the Otherworld, and he makes the case, without straining, that mundanity has its own magic.
—The New York Times Book Review

It is not hyperbole to say that M. T. Anderson is one of the greatest living writers, in any genre and for every age group. It might even be an understatement.
—Adam Gidwitz, author of The Inquisitor’s Tale, a Newbery Honor Book

Delightful, amusing, and imaginative! Elf Dog and Owl Head proves that great stories are good medicine.
—Cynthia Leitich Smith, best-selling author of Sisters of the Neversea

Writing with his characteristic precision, Anderson melds the fantastic with the everyday to often riotous effect while also gently schooling Clay and readers in cross-cultural communication. It all comes to a thrilling climax on Midsummer’s Eve before a bittersweet, perfectly pitched denouement. Wu’s lovely, textured pencil drawings add eldritch warmth. . . . A hilarious, heartfelt triumph.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Revisiting the setting of his Norumbegan Quartet and layering the everyday with intriguing lands and creatures, Anderson expertly balances the anguish of pandemic-era isolation with the transporting joys of new friendships. Stylized b&w pencil art from Wu punctuate this wryly told fantasy.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A veritable plum pudding of energetic action and witty delights, but a -foundation of traditional folklore elements—standing stones, half-buried sleeping giants, fairy mischief, portals to the underworld, the Wild Hunt, and predatory wyrms—creates an underlying hint of genuine menace. . . . Balancing this chill is the devoted relationship between Clay and his dog companion, a theme that stands sturdily in the middle of the mayhem. Black-and-white full-page pencil illustrations contribute to both coziness and eeriness.
—The Horn Book

A charming, fantastical spin on the familiar kid/dog story, right down to their tragic separation being quickly followed by a heartwarming reunion. . . . There’s a lot for contemporary kids to relate to here: Clay’s loneliness, his sister’s anger at being forced to stay home, his parents’ constant worry, and the general unfairness of the entire situation. Holding all that chaotic emotion together and framing it with a well-developed fantasy world is an impressive feat, and Anderson, as usual, does it with aplomb.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

The world of M.T. Anderson’s Elf Dog and Owl Head, hauntingly rendered in Junyi Wu’s bold crosshatched pencil illustrations, is complex, broken, hopeful and real, even in its most fantastical moments. . . upends familiar tropes with imagination, poignancy and just enough realism to allow the reader to see themselves in at least one character. . . . Like Clay, readers will want to continue to explore, even when they feel afraid to take the next step.

This playful romp pulls magic into the mundane and gives regular kids the chance to be heroes while Wu’s cross-hatched pencil illustrations dust the proceedings with further enchantment.

Themes of the unbreakable bonds of friendship, sibling relationships, the love between a boy and his dog, and the triumph of good over evil play out in this page-turner of a novel. Many chapters end on a cliff hanger, making this title an ideal read aloud. . . . Students will be drawn to this clever, magical novel.
—School Library Connection

A sparkling fantasy by the ever-inventive M.T. Anderson. . . . Much of the early humor in this very funny book comes from the disjunction between ordinary human things and the astonishing stuff of elsewhere. . . . Dramatic story turns, witty dialogue and zestful monochrome drawings by Junyi Wu combine to make a reading treat for 8- to 12-year-olds.
—The Wall Street Journal

Anderson’s tale is filled with mysterious creatures – grouchy buried giants, hungry wyrms, owl-headed people – but also with very real longings for friendship and connection that, to the isolated Clay and his sisters, feel at least as magical as the alternate worlds they stumble upon.
—The Virginian Pilot

Elf Dog and Owl Head is a heart-filled, magic-steeped tale of getting through a pandemic that’s very like Covid in the early 2020s. The narrative by M.T. Anderson and black-and-white illustrations by Junyi Wu are evocative and thrilling, as an elf dog finds herself in our world and is taken in by a family whose members are really getting on one another’s nerves in the quarantine. . . . this story has something to offer on many levels — a classic boy-and-his-dog adventure, a magical quest that bridges worlds, a lot of authentically snarky but deeply affectionate dialogue, characters that grab and warm your heart — and it’s a joy for adult as well as kid readers to be there as it unfolds.
—Common Sense Media

The author creates an unusual, relatable world as the backdrop for a story of friendship and love. Young readers will connect with a boy’s close bond with his dog and they’ll empathize with his struggles to save it.
—Young Adult Books Central

Graced with evocative black-and-white illustrations by Junyi Wu, Elf Dog and Owl Head is heartfelt and exhilarating, wry and poignant, seamlessly merging the fantastic and the familiar in a tale both timely and timeless.
—Young Adult Books Central


ALSC Notable Children’s Books SELECTION 2024

Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year SELECTION 2024

Junior Library Guild Selection SELECTION 2023

Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year SELECTION 2023

Audie Awards FINALIST 2024

Newbery Honor Book HONOR 2024

New England Book Award SHORTLIST 2023

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