7.07.2010

Review: Skeleton Man, by Joseph Bruchac

Recommended for ages 10 and up, Bruchac’s story is quite chilling. The young female protagonist, Molly, wakes up one day to find that her parents are missing. When the police are finally notified, a man Molly has never seen, nor heard of, comes to take care of her. He claims to be an uncle of her father’s but Molly is suspicious.

She recalls a legend told by her father’s Native American tribe of a carnivorous man who so loved the taste of flesh that he roasted all of his own, becoming a “skeleton man” and then devoured the flesh of his relatives as well. Molly’s imagination goes wild at the thought and she believes this new relative to have a similar appetite. The legend Bruchac refers to is pretty creepy to begin with, but when the clues start to add up to something more human and more sinister, you start wondering what kind of kids’ book this is.

However, what could resemble something uncomfortably adult is downplayed by the presence of Molly’s dreams which echo the original legend and which, in the end, save her from the nightmare of reality and help her recover her parents. It’s a quick read, and the dramatic build-up is great. I loved having a female protagonist (I’m so used to 10-year-old boys getting into this mischief!) and I appreciated the lessons taught in bravery, ingenuity and autonomy. A great book for young readers who don’t mind the fearsome challenge of human monsters with human motives.

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