Polly & the One & Only World by Don Bredes


Polly & the One & Only World by Don Bredes

Don Bredes's new young adult (YA) fantasy is called Polly and the One and Only World. Don's first novel,Hard Feelings, was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 1977, a New York Times Notable Book, and a 20th Century Fox feature film. Polly and the One and Only Worldis set in a much-diminished future America called the Christian Protectorates, a poor country ravaged by coastal flooding, drought, and cataclysmic social upheaval, the story features 15-year-old Polly Lightfoot, a maiden witch of rich heritage and tender ability in the craft. When the story opens, Polly is forced to flee New Florida, where she has taken temporary refuge to escape a military purge of the country's infidels, pagans, and followers of false creeds. With the help of her steadfast familiar, Balthazar, a raven, and her brave teenage companion, Leon, whom she meets on the way, Polly undertakes an epic journey from the deep south to the wild north to be reunited in Vermont with her family and to save her ancient craft from obliteration. Don Bredes is a versatile, visionary novelist. His frightening, vividly realized depiction of our stricken land in the stifling grip of fundamentalists offers young readers a galvanizing motive for preventive action. Not only do readers learn a great deal about witchcraft and religious oppression, but the chilling aspect of an America dominated by hateful zealots in the wake of climate catastrophe presents them with an inspiring challenge-today-to forestall the dire consequences of climate chaos. Gloomy though Polly's world may be, her story does not make use of the horrific realism found in dystopian novels like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, or even in Susan Collins's Hunger Games. Rather, Polly and the One and Only World gives young readers a vision of a future that will inspire them to appreciate their own freedom and their own capacity to work for positive social and political change.


The one and only world referenced in the title is that of a near-future United States magical, post-catastrophe, almost familiar, yet chillingly changed. Polly has been sent to the relative safety of her aunt and uncle in Florida to escape the Christian Protectorate government s purge of her village in Vermont. But safety is not possible for a hereditary witch in the fundamentalist police state that America has become. The teen manages to escape capture by the guard with the aid of her familiar, Balthazar the crow. She sets off to find her family, but discovers travel through the wilds of climate cataclysm and institutionalized zealotry is not an easy course. With the help of friends she meets along the way, particularly the freethinking Leon, Polly struggles through betrayal, loss, and capture. With captivating language that draws readers in, Bredes s writing will inspire teens to revere current freedoms. Though the messages are clear, they are sketched with a light hand, so as not to overwhelm the story. The complexity of Polly and Leon as characters is revealed as they experience danger and redemption on their journey. Their relationship grows and develops as they do. Their multidimensionality is wonderfully contrasted with Balthazar s black-and-white view of the world, which often leads the sometimes naive title character out of danger. A thrilling journey, full of peril, exploit, friendship, and sorrow, this book is sure to find readers. --Genevieve Feldman School Library Journal

About the Author

Don Bredes lives in the hills of northern Vermont. He earned an MFA in Fiction from the University of California at Irvine and an AB in English Composition from Syracuse University. He has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford University, and he has been awarded fellowships. His popular and controversial first novel, HARD FEELINGS (Atheneum, 1977), was an American Library Association Best Book in 1977 and a 20th Century-Fox film release in 1982.

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Book Info


336 pages


Don Bredes
More books by Don Bredes


Publication date

6th October 2014



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