Don Bredes writes superbly and creates compelling, believable characters. —Kirkus Reviews
Don’s new young adult (YA) fantasy is called Polly and the One and Only World. His 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. We are absolutely thrilled to be publishing his new book and we support the new genre “Clifi” for this title.
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.
THIS JUST IN: Another great review from Foreword Reviews!
More Glowing Reviews
A fabulous review from School Library Journal:
Polly Lightfoot is the most likable, and the most resourceful, teenage character in American fiction since Huck Finn. Like Mark Twain’s classic, Don Bredes’s horrifying and inspiring Polly and the One and Only World will be loved by readers of all ages. Unforgettable characters, non-stop action, timely social commentary, and one gorgeous sentence after another from beginning to end . . . Polly and the One and Only World has it all. –Howard Frank Mosher, author of Walking to Gatlinburg
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 for his fiction by the Vermont Council on the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts.
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. His published work includes four other novels, MULDOON (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982), COLD COMFORT (Harmony Books, 2001), THE FIFTH SEASON (Three Rivers Press, 2005), and the third in his Hector Bellevance literary suspense series, THE ERRAND BOY (Three Rivers Press, 2009). The fourth novel in the series, THE BIGFOOT HUNTER, is in the works. He has published short stories, essays, and book reviews in a variety of publications, including “The New York Times Sunday Magazine,” “The Los Angeles Times Book Review,” and “Paris Review.”
Two of his screenplay adaptations have been independently produced and released internationally as feature-length films, “Where the Rivers Flow North,” starring Rip Torn and Michael J. Fox, and “A Stranger in the Kingdom,” with an ensemble cast including Ernie Hudson and Martin Sheen. They’re available on DVD. When he’s not writing, he enjoys cooking, gardening, reading, playing tennis, hiking, birdwatching, kite-flying, star-gazing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, as the seasons permit. Find out more about this amazing author: http://donbredes.com
Polly and the One and Only World
Published October 6, 2014
Paperback: 348 pages
Trim Size: 5.25 x 8 inches
Bookstores can order via Ingram, Baker & Taylor, or directly from Midpoint Trade Books
Excerpts from reviews of POLLY AND THE ONE AND ONLY WORLD
“Polly and the One and Only World a delightful, if sometimes harrowing and emotionally painful, hybrid of science fiction and fantasy, aimed at a Young Adult audience. It is set in the dystopian landscape(s) of a near-future USA wrecked by cataclysmic events that are, perhaps wisely, never quite explained or defined. In this bleak future, the post-collapse remnants of the nation are ruled by a fundamentalist Christian theocracy. This is a lovely book. I enjoyed it very much, and I’d have delighted in it as a teenager. . . . Bredes has legitimate concerns about his country’s future–he is not a mere fearmonger–and he’s transmuted them to make a fine, suspenseful story.” —RUSSELL BLACKFORD, philosopher, writer, and critic
“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. A thrilling journey, full of peril, exploit, friendship, and sorrow, this book is sure to find readers.” —SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
“In a broken future America, a teenage witch travels from Florida to Vermont to save her kind from a purge orchestrated by a repressive Christian regime. Oh, and she can fly. That’s the irresistible premise of Don Bredes‘s new novel, Polly and the One and Only World, which draws on influences such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, James Howard Kunstler’s post-peak-oil novels and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy to put a new spin on the thriving genre of young-adult dystopian fiction. The novel is more a picaresque than it is a “hero’s journey”: Bold and capable from beginning to end, Polly doesn’t so much “come of age” as simply apply her skills ingeniously to one perilous situation after another. Bredes presents a wonderfully intricate version of witchcraft: Spells are in Middle English, animal familiars are neither cute nor fuzzy, and flying is hard. Witchcraft has its own belief system, too, nature based and focused on the “one and only world” in which we live. Bredes’ descriptions of that world, built detail by painstaking detail, are the novel’s greatest asset. While his style here is fast-paced and friendly to young readers, he finds room to turn painterly phrases that bring the setting alive. A waterfall has “milky sinews”; a ruin has a “pebble-textured wall” where the travelers can make out “the shadow of a word, JCPenney.” —SEVEN DAYS
“Constantly battling the nature of good versus evil, Polly and Leon engage in refreshingly open debates about the state of the new regime and the world around them, “We’re just specks, Leon. Tiny specks in an ocean of space and time.” Deep thinkers as well as action and risk takers, Polly, Leon, and Balthazar. lead the way in a fight for freedom, individuality, and change that is just as relevant today as it was years ago in Salem—and certainly will be in years to come.” —FOREWORD REVIEWS
“Polly and the One and Only World is a page-turner. I’m an avid reader of young adult fiction, most likely because I have a young adult, but also because there are some wonderfully good books out there for adolescents and teenagers. This is one of them.” —BARTON CHRONICLE, Tena Starr
“What struck me most on reading Polly and the One and Only World is the author’s powerfully imaginative descriptions of the dystopian world he created, with eerie remnants of 20th-century life amid a social structure reduced to a pre-industrial survival of the most ruthless.The 15-year old heroine learns who she can trust on her travel north from Florida to Vermont, with the help of her familiar, a raven, who is a great character himself. The author describes their communication in a unique way, as images which the raven sends to Polly as a foreteller, which become her thoughts. Without being derivative of other dystopian novels, there are literary references, to things like shipbreakers, which will set up echoes in a well-read teen’s mind, and the book has important themes but is not didactic. I’m a high school librarian, so I read a lot of young adult novels, and this is a great book for teens. The descriptions of Polly’s world, sixteen years after an unnamed apocalyptic event, are so rooted in remnants of today’s world that the story, despite witchcraft, is dreadfully believable.The Dickensian characters are fully developed and memorable. I found myself thinking of them and the predicaments they found themselves in long after I read the book.” —Linda Wooster, St. Johnsbury Academy Library Director
“Bredes’ compelling storyworld, at once familiar and exotic, captures our imagination and thrusts us forward into an America that is post-catastrophe, if not quite post-apocalypse. Readers of Polly and the One and Only World are in for quite a ride as they journey northward along the highways and byways of an eerily defamiliarized eastern seaboard, with a plucky young witch and her appealingly prickly winged familiar as traveling companions. Action-packed and thought provoking, this book will change our conception of our own world, and, incidentally, what is possible in the young adult novel.” —Tim Weed, novelist
“Polly and the One and Only World (Green Writers Press) is a dystopian YA cli-fi novel that tackles some pretty heavy themes, and author Don Bredes has pulled it off without a hitch. The story he tells is stormy, dark, and deep, but it ends with a note of hope as well, as befits a YA novel. It’s a story for our times, bound for a wide readership, but it’s going to jangle some nerves along the way.” —Dan Bloom, Cli-fi (climate fiction) reviewer and blogger
“Polly is a terrific read all the way through. Never a dull moment. The characters are distinctive and fascinating, and the descriptions always fresh enough, on point enough, and quick enough that they don’t burden the momentum of this thrilling action story with thought-provoking moral underpinnings. A robustly created and inhabited post-cataclysmic world that readers know and don’t know and I suspect will feel mysteriously drawn to rush back to as I was. Until I saw the end coming. Then I did the thing I sometimes just find myself doing, slowing down on the last 50 pages because I don’t want the book to end. In recent times I’ve done that with Robin Oliveira’s My Name is Mary Sutter and Balzac’s Pere Goriot, and there I was doing it with Polly and The One and Only World until I finally gave in and relished its blasting-good final pages”. —Gary Moore, Academic Dean Vermont College of Fine Arts