JESSICA VITALIS, a Columbia MBA-wielding writer, authored The Wolf’s Curse and The Rabbit’s Gift (which received two starred reviews and was named a Canadian Children’s Book Center Best Books for Kids and Teens 2023). Her third novel, Coyote Queen, is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection and has already received a Kirkus starred review. A novel in verse, Unsinkable Cayenne, comes out in 2024. Her work has been translated into three languages, and she was named a 2021 Canada Council of the Arts Grant Recipient and featured on CBCs Here and Now and CTVs Your Morning. An American expat, Jessica lives in Ontario with her husband and two daughters but speaks at conferences, festivals, and schools all over North America.
Twelve-year-old Fud feels trapped. She lives a precarious life in a cramped trailer with her mom and her mom’s alcoholic ex-boxer of a boyfriend, Larry. Fud can see it’s only a matter of time until Larry explodes again, even if her mom keeps on making excuses for his behavior. If only Fud could find a way to be as free as the coyotes roaming the Wyoming countryside. Strong, smart, independent, and always willing to protect their own.
When Larry sells his prized Golden Gloves trophy and buys a rusted-out houseboat, Fud is horrified to hear that he wants to fix it up for them to live on permanently. All she sees is a floating prison. Then new neighbor Leigh tells Fud about Miss Black Gold, a beauty pageant sponsored by the local coal mine. While Fud doesn’t care much about gowns or talents or prancing around on stage, she cares very much about getting herself and her mom away from Larry before the boat is finished. And to do that, she needs money, in particular that Miss Black Gold prize money.
One problem: the more Fud has fantasized about escape, the more her connection to the coyotes lurking outside her window has grown. And strange things have started happening—is Fud really going color-blind? Are her eyebrows really getting bushier? And why does it suddenly seem like she can smell everything?
The Benefits of Being an Octopus meets The Nest in this contemporary middle grade novel with a magical twist about family, class, and resilience.
The Rabbit's Gift
When the delicate balance is broken between the people of a small country and the mythical rabbits of old, a rabbit and a young girl must learn to trust each other. A standalone companion to The Wolf’s Curse, The Rabbit’s Gift is a vivid and inventive novel inspired by French folklore set in a country in which babies are grown in cabbage-like plants called Chou . . . and delivered by rabbits.
Fleurine, a twelve-year-old aspiring botanist and daughter of the Grand Lumière, secretly tries to grow the elusive purple carrots that humans trade for Chou. She longs for a sibling, but Maman doesn’t want another child. What’s more, she believes science will upset the natural order and insists that Fleurine follow in her political footsteps.
Meanwhile, the human demand for babies has dropped, and the rabbits are starving. A runt named Quincy decides to take matters into his own paws and sets out for the city, determined to prove that you don’t have to be big to be a hero.
When he inadvertently leads Fleurine back to the top-secret Warren, he sets off a string of events that pits them against each other and jeopardizes the future of the entire country––for rabbits and humans alike.
The Wolf's Curse
Shunned by his fearful village, a twelve-year-old apprentice embarks on a surprising quest to clear his name, with a mythic—and dangerous—wolf following closely at his heels. Jessica Vitalis’s debut is a gorgeous, voice-driven literary fantasy about family, fate, and long-held traditions. The Wolf’s Curse will engross readers of The Girl Who Drank the Moon and A Wish in the Dark.
Gauge’s life has been cursed since the day he cried Wolf and was accused of witchcraft. The Great White Wolf brings only death, Gauge’s superstitious village believes. If Gauge can see the Wolf, then he must be in league with it.
So instead of playing with friends in the streets or becoming his grandpapa’s partner in the carpentry shop, Gauge must hide and pretend he doesn’t exist. But then the Wolf comes for his grandpapa. And for the first time, Gauge is left all alone, with a bounty on his head and the Wolf at his heels.
A young feather collector named Roux offers Gauge assistance, and he is eager for the help. But soon the two—both recently orphaned—are questioning everything they have ever believed about their village, about the Wolf, and about death itself.
Narrated by the sly, crafty Wolf, Jessica Vitalis’s debut novel is a vivid and literary tale about family, friendship, belonging, and grief. The Wolf’s Curse will captivate readers of Laurel Snyder’s Orphan Island and Molly Knox Ostertag’s The Witch Boy.