Also posted on my blog.Breathtaking is a word that is often used to express praise, but how often is it literally used? I will take an oath in a court of law, that there were actually times while reading this book that I forgot to breath. There are some moments in this book that are so frightening, that if I was a thumb sucker, I would be missing a digit. This story is also packed with moments of such beauty, joy and love, that, as a reader, I was reminded by the aching in my chest, why the heart is credited as our emotional center. With my limited ability I don’t know how I can ever do justice to Appelt’s phrasing. In describing when the girl kitten is given her name - “She sat straight up and tried it on.” Her use of words is so delightful and sensual, I wanted to cut out her phrases, sentences, paragraphs and chapters, toss them in the air like feathers and let them caress me with their subtlety, cleverness, and beauty. I walked away from this story dizzy with its splendor. I may need a little grounding. The brutality in the story, while not explicit, is very traumatizing, making it unsuitable to younger readers. I’m not sure what the cut off age would be, it would depend on the child, but I would stick to 5th and 6th grade. And just so you know, you really shouldn’t read past chapter 31 if you are standing in line at a Shannon Hale book-signing. Large, middle-aged, women, openly sobbing can be quite disturbing.