It’s 1963 in London, and Maggie Stephens suffers from stuttering. She’s on her fourth elementary school, since no one knows how to handle her problem. Maggie’s father is threatening to send her to an institution to be “cured, ” which has her terrified. Yet Maggie has no trouble speaking when she’s alone with her pets : a mouse, a bird healing from a broken wing, some snails, a spider and even some roly-poly wood lice (each with its own name). But Mrs. Stephens intervenes, and Maggie is sent to live with her grandfather in southwest England, on the very edges of Wildoak Forest. Fortunately her grandfather Fred is a very kind soul, and Maggie befriends an injured snow leopard cub she stumbles upon in the forest, dumped there by a disgruntled owner. This is such a magical book, I absolutely loved it. It forces you to believe in the inherent goodness in others. Be sure to have a box of tissues handy, though, some moments of suspense might have you weeping…

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