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Widwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Wildwood Dancing
y Juliet Marillier

Publishing Information: Scholastic Press: New York, 2007
ISBN: 9780439918480 / 037584470 (PB) / 0739379380 (Audio)
: 416 p.
Ages: 12 & Up

Transylvania use a hidden portal in their home to cross over into a magical world, the Wildwood.

Book Talk:
There are many mysteries within the wildwood. Jena and her sisters share the biggest of all, a fantastic secret that enables them to escape the confines of their everyday life in rural Transylvania. They have kept it hidden for nine long years.

When their father falls ill and must leave their forest home over the winter, Jena and her oldest sister Tati are left in charge. All goes well until a tragic accident allows their over bearing cousin Cezar to take control. The appearance of a mysterious young man in a black coat divides sister from sister, and suddenly Jena finds herself fighting to save all she holds dear. With her constant companion Gogu by her side, she must venture to realms dark and perilous in her quest to preserve, not just those she loves, but her own independence as well.

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Sick Persons

Awards & Reviews:’s Top Ten Books for Young Adults, 2007
Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel, 2006
Beehive Award Nominees, 2009
Best Children's Books of the Year (Bank Street College of Education), 2007
Book Sense Children's Pick List, 2007
Kirkus Reviews Editor Choice Award, 2007
New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age,  2008
Outstanding International Books (US Board of Books for Young People and Children's Book Council), 2008
YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults, 2007

Booklist¸ Ferbruary 1, 2007, p. 43
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, March 1, 2007
Horn Book, March 1, 2007,
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2007
Publishers Weekly, January 22, 2007, p. 186
School Library Journal, February 1, 2007,  p.124 (Starred Review)
VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates, February 1, 2007

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

    1. Wildwood Dancing is based in part on the fairy tales “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Frog Prince.” Read both fairy tales. How does Marillier’s retelling of each tale as an integral part of Wildwood Dancing detract or enhance the story’s main theme? Which fairy tale is the stronger of the two in the book? Is this story a true retelling of one or both of these fairy tales? If so, how? If not, how do they differ? Why does Marillier choose to use a “fairy tale” to tell her story? How does incorporating a re-told tale impact the reader’s experience with the story?
    2. In the original Brothers Grimm version of the tale, the Princess throws the Frog against a wall out of anger, and he unexpectedly becomes a prince. In Marillier's version, Jena kisses the Frog as an act of friendship and sign of her love for him. How does this twist change the story? How does it make the story resonate with you? Gogu says to Jena, “Trust is a thing you know without words.” What does he mean? How do these words foreshadow what will happen later in the book? Why does Jena leave Gogu after his transformation? If you were Jena would you? Why? Why not?
    3. Who are the “Night People” and why is Jena afraid of their presence in the Dancing Glade? Why does Tatiana’s involvement with Sorrow scare Jena? How is his name appropriate to who he is and his relationship with Tatiana? What does Paula mean when she tells Tati, “…Sorrow could be anything at all. The face he shows you may be only the one he wants you to see.”
    4. Jena tells Cezar, “But you’re a leader—you should be setting an example, not charging forward with the scent of blood in your nostrils and blind hatred in your heart. No matter how cruel the blow of losing your brother, it should never have made you lose your sense of what is right.” What does Jena mean by this? Does Cezar have a clear sense of right and wrong? When did he lose it? Or didn’t he? What is the “Evil Joke” someone played on him? And who played it? Can you find any instances of the world around you? In your personal life? Current events in the news? Locally? Nationally? Internationally? Historically?
    5. Is Wildwood Dancing an appropriate title for this book? Why? Why not? What does the “wildwood” represent to Jena and her sisters at the outset of the book? Does that change? If so, how? What does it represent to Cezar? What does it mean to those who are from the “Other Kingdom”, the “Night People”?

Related Websites:
Author’s website:

Sur La Lune ~ Fairy Tales and Folklore ~ Twelve Dancing Princesses:

The Twelve Dancing Princesses:

Encyclopedia Mythica:

Fables and Fairy Tales:

Endicott Studios:

Once Upon a time…:

The Big Bad Wolf: Scary Characters in Children's Literature:

The Annals of the Western Shore series by Ursula K. LeGuin
            Gifts, 2004
, 2006
, 2007
by Donna Jo Napoli, 2000
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley, 1978
by Donna Jo Napoli, 2004
Breath by Donna Jo Napoli, 2003
The Chanters of Tremaris Trilogy
by Kate Constable
            The Singer of All Songs
, 2004
            The Waterless Sea, 2005
            The Tenth Power, 2006
by Robin McKinley, 2008
A Curse Dark as Gold
by Elizabeth C. Bunce, 2008
by Robin McKinley, 1993
Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley, 2007
The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. LeGuin
            A Wizard of Eartsea, 1968
            The Tombs of Atuan, 1971
            The Farthest Shore, 1972
, 1990
            Tales from Earthsea
, 2001
The Other Wind, 2001
The Hallowed Isle
series by Diana L. Paxson
            The Book of the Sword
, 1999
            The Book of the Spear
, 1999
            The Book of the Cauldron,
            The Book of the Stone
, 2000
Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale
by Donna Jo Napoli, 2007
The Last Unicorn by
Peter S. Beagle, 1969

The Magic Circle by Donna Jo Napoli, 1993
The Night Dance
by Suzanne Weyn, 2005
Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesener, 2007
Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesener, 2008 (sequel to Nobody's Princess)
The Pellinor series by Alisson Crogan
            The Naming, 2005
            The Riddle, 2006
            The Crow, 2006
The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison, 2007
Rose Daughter
by Robin McKinley, 1997
Singer by Jean Thesman, 2005
The Singer in the Snow by Louise Marley, 2005
Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli, 2000
Song of the Sparrow
by Lisa Ann Sandell (2009 RITBA Nominee)
Spindle's End by Robin McKinley, 2000
by Donna Jo Napoli & Richard Tchen, 1999
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
by Jessica Day George, 2008
The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott, 2008
Water Song: A Retelling of "The Frog Prince"
by Suzanne Weyn, 2006
Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, 1996 for more titles.

Other Books by the Author:
Bridei Chronicles
The Dark Mirror, 2005
Blade of Fortriu, 2006
The Well of Shades, 2007

Cybele’s Secret, 2008 (companion to Wildwood Dancing)

Saga of the Light Isles
Wolfskin, 2003
Foxmask, 2004

Sevenwaters Trilogy
Daughter of the Forest, 2000
Son of the Shadows 2001
Child of the Prophecy , 2002

About the Author:
Date of birth: July 27 1948 
Birth name: Juliet Scott (my family emigrated from Scotland. There's also an Irish line on my mother's side.)
Place of birth: Dunedin, New Zealand
Place of current residence:  I live in a cottage that was built around 1900. It's situated a stone's throw from the junction of the Swan and Helena Rivers in Perth, Western Australia.
Who lives there: Apart from me, two dogs and a tri-coloured cat.
Family: I'm divorced with four grown-up children and two grandchildren.
Education: Arthur Street Primary School and Otago Girls' High School in Dunedin. I have a BA and a B Mus (Hons) from the University of Otago.

I've worked as a teacher and tutor in music at both university and high school level. More recently I've worked in the Australian public service. My past career also includes singing in opera and conducting choirs.

My first novel, Daughter of the Forest, was published in 1999. I've been a full time writer since about 2002.

I now have ten novels in print. My writing is generally classified as historical fantasy. Some of my novels are more fantastic (the Sevenwaters Trilogy, Foxmask) and some are more historical (Wolfskin, the Bridei Chronicles.) My novels are generally published in separate editions in Australia and New Zealand, the UK, the USA and Canada, and also in translation in the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy and various other countries.  

My books have won a number of awards over the years. The most recent was the 2008 Sir Julius Vogel Award for young adult novel, won by Cybele's Secret. To find out about what I'm currently writing, visit the Work in Progress page.

| ©2004 - Rhode Island Teen Book Award Committee | Aaron Coutu, Chair