Cohn, Edith Spirit’s Key, 320 p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2014. $16.99
Spirit's family has a "family gift" of seeing into the future. When Spirit and her father moved to Bald Island six years ago, he established a clientele of “believers”. By now Spirit should have inherited the "family gift", but has not because she is mourning the loss of her beloved adopted pet dog Sky, a wild baldie. The community believes Sky and other dogs like him are "devil spirits" because of the island's legends and long held beliefs. Spirit finds Sky's dog tag in a neighbor's gravel driveway which seems to unlock her ability to foresee the future and Sky’s ghost. As more baldies are found dead and the community becomes very ill, a great sense of fear forces the doctor to quarantine those who are sick, including her father. Spirit continues to receive “messages” from unknown people which give her courage to try to save those who are sick and the baldies on the island.
Edith Cohn’s debut novel is creatively written and provides the reader with a strong sense of angst felt by the Bald Island's community's prejudice toward baldies and "ding batters" (outsiders). This book was an endearing animal book without needing a box of tissues like I needed when I read Where the Red Fern Grows. In the end, I walked away from the book proud of Spirit and her accomplishments. SL
EL – ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL, Library Teacher