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Hardcover Breath Book

ISBN: 0689861745

ISBN13: 9780689861741


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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Salz is a boy afflicted with cystic fibrosis -- though in the Middle Ages in Saxony no one can identify it as such. Instead he is an outcast, living with his unfeeling father and superstitious... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An exciting, sensitive and scary "must read"!

This story is a rough re-telling of the legend of the Pied Piper of Hameln, but with a lot of twists and turns that will definitely keep the reader interested. Donna Jo Napoli paints a scary and realistic picture of Medieval Germany. The main character, "Salz" is a twelve year old boy, living in the town of Hameln, Germany in the year 1284. Salz is afflicted with a mysterious disease (actually cystic fibrosis) which hinders him a lot in his life. He is also a member of a papal coven, keeps a black cat as a "familiar", is prevented from a lot of childhood activities, and is shunned by most of his family. You will find yourself cheering for this poor child, right up to the very end. A lot of this book actually focuses on Medieval culture, religious practices, traditions, food, farming, and family structures, etc. Anyone interested in Medieval history will find this book very entertaining. Some of the scarier activites include; selling children into slavery, excessive drinking, rat plagues, diseases, murder, heresy, religious hypocrisy, witchcraft, and strange, medievel "acid trips", to name a few! This book is probably not for the squeamish, so be warned... but I highly recommend it as a must read for anyone who loves adventure and fairy tales with deeper meaning. Don't miss it!

Elementary Education major

This was a very interesting book indeed. Set in a medieval town called Hameln in 1284, this book is about a boy named Salz who has cystic fibrosis (although they didn't call it that at that time) and has to do all kinds of crazy things just to stay alive. He has to avoid beer, stand on his head, and belong to a coven to name a few. As the story progresses the town becomes infested with rats and a very strange disease. Eventually the whole village is plunged into madness and Salz is accused of witchcraft. This story---which is based on the pied piper legends---would be ideal for the history buff in your family and would make an excellent Christmas gift!

Take a breath, a good one: it may be your last

As usual, Donna Jo Napoli lures you into the world within her pages in the most unassuming way. She paints grim scenes of the Medieval Days, and gives you a history lesson as well! You learn how people dressed and ate and worked: what kind of buildings they lived in and how they typically dealt with problems. The main character in Breath is called Salz: S for the salvation of his soul, A for ability and action, L for loyalty, and Z for zeal (salz also means "salt" in Latin- or some such language). He's sweet and willful, tenacious, clever, brave... but Salz's one great weakness prevails over all of his more useful characteristics. Salz is sick quite often. He has a peculiar disease which makes him "salty" and which the townsfolk and farmers of Hameln regard as symbolic that he's from the devil. Besides that, there is an enemy inside him: the mucus that fills his lungs and stops the air he needs to breathe. Nevertheless, Salz is strong in the face of any opposition. He is zealous in his coven practices (yes- witches!)and faithful to Catholicism. When things start to go awry in Hameln town, Salz will need every ounce of his tenacity just to stay alive. Breath is a pretty offbeat re-telling of the legendary Pied Piper of Hameln town. Throughout the book, rats infest houses and churches and barns: anywhere where they can sneak to get away from the incessant rain (there's something funny about that rain, TOO MUCH rain... that can't be good). When the whole town starts getting sick, starting with the cattle and the pigs, the people first turn blame upon the rats, those filthy animals known for spreading sicknesses that come from thickly populated Asia. Near the end of the tale, Salz remembers a piper whom he met (in the very first chapter) who could charm animals and who could possibly drive the rats away from Hameln. But are the rats REALLY the problem... Read Breath to find out!

Quite good, but not Great

Napoli has done an excellent job portraying a medieval town. The details of daily life in Hameln during the 13th century are fascinating, if grim. The story is narrated by a boy named Salz, who lives with his older brothers, father, and grandmother on a farm outside town. Grandmother taught him to stand on his hands to help him clear the congestion from his lungs when his frequent bouts of coughing overtake him. This year has the rainiest growing season in memory, and the most rats. First the grazing animals sicken, then the townspeople. As the frightened people try everything to rid themselves of this pestilence, Salz finds himself in danger - why hasn't he shown any of the symptoms? This book was interesting enough to finish, but not a page-turner. Recommended for history buffs and fans of the middle ages.

Donna Jo Napoli outdoes herself on this one!

Donna Jo Napoli is known for standing fairy tales, myths and legends on their heads. She's taken on Rapunzel, the Sirens, Jack and his beanstalk, Pan, Beauty and Beast - always from a fresh perspective and with characters that jump off the page. Her work has a sensuality and passion that are overwhelming and at times frightening, and she takes no prisoners - always calling events and people as she sees them.In Breath, she starts with the legend of the lame boy who is left behind when the Pied Piper attracts all the children of Hameln Town, and makes that almost an afterthought. Much of the book is devoted to the culture and mores of the time - the Church, the farmers, the townspeople, the way of life - so the book will serve as a great history lesson for those interested in medieval times.The protagonist, who has cystic fibrosis (leave it to DJ to come up with this) is an immensely appealing and sensitive character who tells the tale through the eyes of a sickly young man whose spirit ultimately prevails.
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