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Spring 2021 Kids Indie Next List
“Amber and Clay is magnificent! It is a remarkable visit to the ancient world, where we readers (like the gods themselves) observe the difficult lives of mortals. Rhaskos is an enslaved stable boy who longs to release the art and grand thoughts that fill him. Melisto, the spoiled daughter of a wealthy father, burns with resentment over the love her mother withholds. Laura Amy Schlitz relates their painfully intertwined stories through vivid, urgent, poetic voices of both gods and mortals. The result is a stunning accomplishment, and a truly unforgettable read.”
— Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, MA
The Newbery Medal-winning author of Good Masters Sweet Ladies gives readers a virtuoso performance in verse in this profoundly original epic pitched just right for fans of poetry, history, mythology, and fantasy.
Welcome to ancient Greece as only genius storyteller Laura Amy Schlitz can conjure it. In a warlike land of wind and sunlight, "ringed by a restless sea," live Rhaskos and Melisto, spiritual twins with little in common beyond the violent and mysterious forces that dictate their lives. A Thracian slave in a Greek household, Rhaskos is as common as clay, a stable boy worth less than a donkey, much less a horse. Wrenched from his mother at a tender age, he nurtures in secret, aided by Socrates, his passions for art and philosophy. Melisto is a spoiled aristocrat, a girl as precious as amber but willful and wild. She'll marry and be tamed--the curse of all highborn girls--but risk her life for a season first to serve Artemis, goddess of the hunt.
Bound by destiny, Melisto and Rhaskos--Amber and Clay--never meet in the flesh. By the time they do, one of them is a ghost. But the thin line between life and death is just one boundary their unlikely friendship crosses. It takes an army of snarky gods and fearsome goddesses, slaves and masters, mothers and philosophers to help shape their story into a gorgeously distilled, symphonic tour de force.
Blending verse, prose, and illustrated archaeological "artifacts," this is a tale that vividly transcends time, an indelible reminder of the power of language to illuminate the over- and underworlds of human history.