Parents' Guide to

The Pull of the Ocean

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Unsettling French fable may confuse and alarm kids.

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This tale may be based on a fable, but it's not one of the happily-ever-after kind. Based on Charles Perrault's Hop o' My Thumb, this seamless translation from French, will, like so many European children's books, seem rather odd to American readers. Its disturbing ending leaves many questions unanswered. Why did Yann put his brothers through this ordeal? What will happen to him?

Told in first person, as if in testimony, from dozens of viewpoints -- the various brothers, parents, witnesses along the way, social worker, police, etc. -- the book is well-written and engrossing, if somewhat, in the way of fables, emotionally distant. Yann is an enigmatic protagonist, and readers won't feel that they know him, or any of the other characters. The ending is open-ended; Yann's motives, both for the journey he leads his brothers on and for his desire to continue west, are not clear; and ultimately, this fascinating story leaves the reader vaguely unsettled and unsatisfied.

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