School Library Journal
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Gr 4-6-When 12-year-old Rudi finds a golden guilder while hunting, he can't wait to share the news at home. But unearthly noises haunt him, even safely in his village, and his grandmother tells him that if he has taken something from the Brixen witch, she will not rest until it is returned. The next day, he sets out to return the coin, but an avalanche buries it before he can do so. For months, he is tormented by nightmares and feels at ease only when they finally fade. When a severe infestation of rats strikes the village and the witch's servant arrives offering a solution, Rudi knows that his relief was premature: the payment required to get rid of the rats is the golden guilder. The desperate villagers agree, certain that they can reason with the man, but when they cannot pay, he uses the same fiddle that lured the rats away to lead all of the village children deep into the mountains. As Rudi learns more about the village witch and the servant who has stolen some of her powers, he realizes that he must battle the evil that is threatening to destroy the witch's magic. The final confrontation requires Rudi to rely on his wits and on the other villagers, and leads to a satisfying conclusion. The folksy language and silhouette spot art give this Pied Piper-inspired story an old-fashioned quality that fans of fairy tales will appreciate.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* The superstitious villagers of Brixen have always been haunted by the witch of their mountain, and when pestilence descends upon them, they know she's to blame. Twelve-year-old Rudi, the dairyman's son, understands he's the one who angered her, having been tormented by fearsome dreams since bringing home a mysterious gold coin he found on the mountainside. With the encouragement of his wise grandmother, he accepts his responsibility to pay the piper albeit one who plays a violin and struggles mightily to save his community. With its timeless style and sensibility and well-crafted Germanic mood (although the author was inspired by the Italian Alps), this book is just right for reaffirming one's belief in the power of story as it freshly calls upon elements of mysterious and magical folklore, truths of fearful and foolish human nature, and lots of rats. The length and pacing are ideal, as is the silhouette-style spot art, and the third-person narration captures Rudi's determination and bravery in facing up to witches, which, like rodents, are a necessary, and unavoidable, part of life. Although Brixen legend claims, 'Tis bad luck to see a rat in the shadow of the churchyard wall . . . Nothing good can come of that, much good comes from DeKeyser's tale.--Medlar, Andrew Copyright 2010 Booklist