Title: Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood
Author: Pierce, Meredith Ann
Publication Info: New York: Viking, 2001
Age Groups/Grades: Ages 12+
Topics: Identity, Wizards, Magic, Fantasy
Summary: Hannah is a healer in search of her identity and place in the world after she defies the wizard she has served for more years than she knows and sets out with her animal companions to locate the faraway queen who might be able to save the life of the injured young prince who has come to fight the fierce golden boar.
Booktalk: Hannah is a gifted young healer who lives at the edge of a deep, dark wood known as Tanglewood. She has no human friends, no memory or her past, nor any idea as to why flowers and herbs grow among her hair, but these plants always seem to be just the right ones to help the various ailments presented by the poor local cottars, but these folk never stay long and seem to be afraid—whether of her or the forest, she is not certain. But she is starting to wonder. Her only companions are Old Badger, Magpie, and three half-grown foxes—all of whom she can converse with—none of whom the cottars seem able to understand. Her only other human contact is with the wizard, but she only sees him when the moon is right and it is time to take him the tea she makes from the plants she pulls from her hair. She has tried to speak to the young knights who come to the wood occasionally, and has even thought to warn them—that none who enter ever leave—but they do not seem to hear her. The cottars speak of a treasure in the Tanglewood and a monstrous golden boar, but Hannah, who is not afraid of the wood has never seen sign of either boar nor treasure? Why are the cottars so afraid? Why can neither she nor her animal companions remember anything of their pasts? Is the Wizard her friend? What is the treasure at the heart of the Tanglewood? To find out, read this book by Meredith Ann Pierce.
Notes: There is discrepancy among the various reviewers as to the recommended ages—with some saying 9 up and others saying 12 up. My personal feeling is that the language might be difficult for some of the younger or less adept readers because the language patterns are more old-fashioned and medieval sounding (for lack of a better description). That said, I remember just loving some of the older writing styles with unfamiliar words and dialects when I was in middle and high school. I would be more inclined to booktalk this for the older students and just recommend it individually to younger ones who seemed to enjoy similar reads.