Read Breath by Donna Jo Napoli Online


Elaborates on the tale of "The Pied Piper," told from the point of view of a boy who is too ill to keep up when a piper spirits away the healthy children of a plague-ridden town after being cheated out of full payment for ridding Hameln of rats....

Title : Breath
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780689861741
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 260 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Breath Reviews

  • Rachel
    2018-11-24 14:22

    The story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin does not sound as though it would make a good novel, let alone one so beautiful as this one. But Donna Jo Napoli, with her characteristic attention to historical detail and emotional reality, creates a moving story about a character whom it is easy to care for. Brief and breathtaking.

  • Virginia
    2018-12-16 11:56

    3.5 stars

  • Dee
    2018-12-18 11:58

    In the year 1284, the German town of Hameln was overcome by a mysterious illness. Legend goes that the town hired a magical piper, who got rid of all the rats. When the piper was refused a fair pay, he led all the young children away with music. Sounds familiar, right? "Breath" challenges the classic story of the Pied Piper. It is told from the point of view by a boy named Salz, who was the lame boy that couldn't keep up with the Piper's parade.Salz is very unique in the story. He has cystic fibrosis-- a genetic condition where mucus builds up in the lungs. Most children who had this at this time did not live that long. Salz seems to beat all the odds against "salty" children, seeing that his age is twelve. Living that long would have been almost impossible in the dark ages, but the author makes this issue work throughout the story. Donna Jo Napoli is at her best in this book. The historical parts were described flawlessly. She also managed to make this book into somewhat of a mystery-- a big step from her other books, such as "Daughter of Venice" and "Bound". There is enough in this book to keep anyone who reads it interested. I would recommend this book to everyone, mainly those who love Historical Fiction. The topic tackled in this book, ergot posioning, was really fascinating. I would love to see more like this from Donna Jo Napoli.

  • Debbie
    2018-11-26 18:23

    What can I say? I simply love this author's fairy tale retellings. I especially enjoy the elements of paganism that permeate the stories. This one, Breath, is based on The Pied Piper of Hamelin. Salz suffers from cystic fibrosis at a time in history when no one survived this disease for long. Thanks to his grandmother's care, Salz is still alive and kicking at the ripe old age of 12. When a mysterious disease sickens the farm animals, and later the people of Hameln, Salz, along with many of the younger children stay healthy. Salz finally convinces the town leaders to hire a piper to draw the rats away from the city because he believes that the rats caused the sickness. When the town leaders do not pay the piper as promised, even more trouble ensues. While the ending is not a particularly happy one, it is hopeful.

  • Kendra Merritt
    2018-11-28 11:53

    Full Review: good book makes me feel the whole gamut of emotions: joy, sorrow, anger, frustration, and shock. A great book does all that, but it also keeps me thinking long after I’ve turned the last past. Breath didn’t have the most engaging plotline or amazing characters, but it had some fascinating things to say about health and illness, disability and heroism, faith and hypocrisy.I know Donna Jo Napoli for her fairytale re-tellings. I really liked Beast and I’ve got Sirena waiting on my to-read shelf. I’m a huge sucker for fairytales, so when I realized Breath was a retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin (one of the more chilling fairytales) and might possibly have something to do with the plague (a subject I find morbidly riveting), I grabbed it without a second thought. Then I realized I had a disability topic in my hands.Salz suffered from Cystic Fibrosis, something that should have killed him long before, but among the medieval remedies his grandmother dosed him with were some potent pieces of wisdom which kept him alive. Someone suffering from Cystic Fibrosis today wouldn’t necessarily do a hand stand every time they start coughing, but the acrobatics helped Salz clear his lungs and breathe easier.I loved how intertwined the perceptions of health and illness were in this book. Salz is sick. Really sick. Sick enough that everyone’s surprised he’s still alive and Salz himself hesitates to make plans for his future. His illness is met with derogatory reactions not unexpected in this time period. His family thinks he’s useless, his grandmother is the only one who shows any affection toward him, and when it comes down to a choice between Salz’s life or his older brother’s, his family chooses to throw him under the metaphorical bus without a second thought.But in the end the Cystic Fibrosis protects him from the disease that ravages the rest of the town. It saves his life even as it threatens to kill him. And of course, being “healthy” puts him at risk again when the townspeople accuse him of being the source of the disease through witchcraft.There was such an interesting give and take between being healthy and being sick. Salz’s weakness is what keeps him from leaving with the children when the piper demands his due, but it is what leaves him healthy enough to go after them. So the invalid becomes the hero. The line between disabled and enabled blurs.I read this with the disability and illness themes in mind, but already, I know that it deserves a re-read. I want to go back and look at how Napoli handled faith and hypocrisy as well. I caught a glimpse of them out of the corner of my eye as I barreled through and I can’t wait to revisit them.

  • Seth McDiarmid
    2018-11-21 18:00

    This is your everyday, average fairy tale.I wanted to read this because I've always been fascinated with the concept of a hero that is physically limited--protagonists in modern stories so often have tragic flaws that are mental or emotional, but rarely does an author explore a physical handicap. Maybe because we're all too uncomfortable with deformity.I absolutely loved her voice. The first-person present tense is one of my favorite narrative styles, and it really gives the story a here-ness, a "this is happening" atmosphere. Salz is such a perfectly good person that it's a little bit frustrating sometimes, and you hate to see him just let stuff happen to him. The frustration is part of the beauty of the story, of being inside a character that is fighting a pair of losing battles--one against the ignorant culture of the time, and the other against a disease with no name and no cure--but fights anyway because he knows the truth, and knows that God knows it.There are a few scenes of fairly graphic violence, and detailed descriptions of disease and plague throughout. Napoli definitely doesn't shy away from her visuals--and they are stunningly written.I'd recommend this to fans of historical fiction and anyone who's into that whole "fairy tale with a twist" genre. Also, anyone who watches Once Upon A Time, so they can see it done well.Warning:Language: German (heh. none.)Sex: ugh, I totally forgot about this. One scene. 2 pages. Pretty gross, doesn't lend anything to the plot. Made me drop a star. Avoid.Drugs: same scene as before, peace-pipe stuff. And a lot of beer, which in Germany is staying hydrated.Rock n Roll: Wanton acts of fluting. Overabundant pipery. Does that count?Violence: Yes. Very yes.

  • Erin
    2018-11-20 15:59

    The book Breath is exciting and unique book. The characters are engaging and interesting. Many of the characters are round and have significant importance in the decisions made by the main character named Salz. Salz is a boy living in Hameln, Germany during the late 1200's. The theme is about doing the right thing and not giving up because it is easier. The theme is developed throughout the story and is revealed more and more during the book. The theme is traditional and familiar. The elements of the plot are wound together and there is more then one climax in the book. Mystery is captivated when trying to find out what is bringing misfortune to the town of Hameln. The plot is secondary to the characters and the setting of medieval times. The most used qualities are emotional. A lot of the plot is based on following your gut and carrying on. Stylistic devices include symbolism and belief. The dialogue is not very effective to the outcome of the book. The setting is a German town called Hameln in the late 1200's and it plays a major part in the work because it was a time of superstition and belief. The setting impacts the character Salz because he has a disease that does not allow him to walk very far. The book was unique but I did not feel that the ending wrapped it up well nor was it satisfying. Therefore, I rate this book with 3 out of 5 stars.

  • Jessica
    2018-11-19 11:03

    This was a really interesting book. I thought it was very well written, considering it was taking place from a child's perspective during a long ago period in history. I will admit spending a lot of time angry at the townspeople for not figuring out what was going on, though I will admit that they didn't have the background science knowledge to necessarily figure it out back then (I don't want to include spoilers, so I won't say what exactly was going on, though I did figure it out very early on in the book).I thought the inclusion of the piper was a bit odd, though the author does make it flow naturally into the storyline. Also, it took me a LONG time to figure out what was going to happen with that, so I got a kick out of it when I realized what was happening. I do enjoy a good plot twist, even an odd one. ;) (Update: After checking out other reviews, I guess this was supposed to be a reimagining of the Pied Piper fairytale, so I guess that part makes WAY more sense now. Oops!)All in all, a good read. A bit graphic for youngsters, so I'd recommend it for high school and up.

  • Liana
    2018-11-25 19:09

    Absolutely beautiful! This is honestly one of my favorite retellings of the Pied Piper. I love how it follows the POV of an ill boy named Salz, whose life is... pretty much a nightmare. After reading this, I'm glad I live in a time period where these sicknesses are treatable and preventable. I can't imagine the horror these people must have gone through back in the day when this happened, and this book really shows those horrors well.All of the characters were really good too! They felt real and believable, even in their madness. Gosh, the way how everyone went bonkers was horrifyingly creepy. Family killing family, random people having sex with each other in the streets, (YES, YOU HEARD ME) and other crazy things... Despite all these mature subjects, the author manages to keep the morbid scenes at a PG 13 level, by not going into huge details about them. :) I love how she did that!I definitely recommend this. The ending is a bit sad though. (More like bittersweet I guess. IT'S STILL GOOD, OK?!)

  • TeenFiction Teton County Library
    2018-11-24 12:03

    J NapoliYou may feel more empathy for this book's main character, Salz, as you continue into the relentless plot and writing style and story revelations take your breath away. Salz suffers from cystic fibrosis in a time when there was no such diagnosis, and certainly no hope for treatment. Living simply on a farm with his grandmother, father, and brothers, Salz stumbles upon a piper in the woods one day, drawn to him along with forest creatures, by the music he plays on his pipe. The piper will return to play his part, but the rest of the story marches forward, focusing on a mysterious illness afflicting livestock and then people, thought to be borne by the hideous rats, which find their way into all of a barn's spaces, and infiltrate the homes.Told in unwavering fascinating prose, this tale details a way of life difficult to read about, much less live. An intricate, engaging story with historical and fairytale underpinnings is not to be missed.Recommended for grade 8 and older.

  • Sariah
    2018-12-14 12:20

    This is a story of the Pied Piper only told from the point of view of the lame boy (Salz) who could not keep up when all the other children were charmed out of town. Most of the story is the build up to the Pied Piper’s visit, and concern Salz’s struggle to stay alive despite his many physical afflictions, and an abusive older brother. While Salz’s life is a struggle he does not wallow in self-pity, instead he struggles to learn all he can about nature, God, and life in general. Then nature seems to turn against the farmers and townspeople. The grazing animals become sick and begin to die off, then the people become stricken with a strange sort of madness. Then rats invaded in large numbers; more rats than anyone can remember seeing. This is a really good story, and I finished it in two days. Although classified as a young adult novel, I think anyone who enjoys medieval fiction will enjoy this book.

  • Lori Clark-Erickson
    2018-12-19 14:19

    Lexile : 620Historical topic & time period book focuses on: The 13th and the 14th hundreds. It is based on the black plagueYour reading: (1-5) 4What did you like best of your book? I like most of all the things of the book because it is very interesting how the story of the young boy is told with very interesting events that happened during the plague What did you dislike of your book? There is nothing that I didn 19t like about the book because most everything was very interesting for me.Summarize: this story takes place in a small village of Germany. This book is mainly about a young boy who got sick and it was the first one in the hole village that infected with the disease. People back in the old times was very ignorant and thought that people who got sick was possessed by a witch and it was very hard to get treaded or get some medicine. This situation of people getting sick often time lid the countries to a war.

  • James
    2018-11-30 15:08

    Set in late 13th Century, Breath is the story of Salz, a 12-year old boy who has a serious illness that makes it almost impossible to work on his family’s farm. The story unfolds like a mystery – the people and animals in the town of Hamelin are sick and dying; is it the moldy grain brought on from the torrential rains; is it the plague of rats infesting the town; or is it witchcraft? When Salz is the one person not affected by the strange disease, he is accused of witchcraft. To prove his worth, Salz brings a pied piper to Hamelin to rid it of rats. In retelling The Pied Piper of Hamelin, Napoli creates a powerfully dark and vivid tale, everything one would hope a Medieval German fairy tale would be.Napoli include a notes section where she explains certain details of the story, such as the illness that afflicts Salz, what was making the town folks ill, and why it was Salz was not affected.

  • Stephanie
    2018-12-12 15:13

    This is the first book I've read by Napoli, but as a history teacher and a fan of historical fiction, I enjoyed this book. Napoli takes an event, in this case the removal of the children of the town of Hamelin by the Pied Piper, and builds a historically and scientifically accurate story around it. The book centers on the child that was left behind, Salz, who has cystic fibrosis and cannot keep up with the other children as they are led away from the city. Napoli goes on to build a story explaining how this event could take place. Why would parents allow their children to leave? How could this happen? Napoli suggests a possibility that is plausible considering the historical record. It's super interesting to take a fairy tale and consider how it could be true historically and scientifically, and I recommend this book to anyone, especially young adult readers, who enjoy historical fiction.

  • Amanda
    2018-12-04 12:21

    Napoli doesn't pull any punches about the nastier aspects of living in a German state in the middle ages. Life was hard and dirty and superstition and ignorance were rampant.I had one tiny advantage reading this book that some people might not have. My father worked with small grains and I know what ergot is and what it can do to humans and animals. It made it easier figure out pretty quick what was making everyone so sick.Like many of Napoli's books there is no classical happily-ever-after ending. Life is hard and then you have to figure out what to do next. I loved the character of Salz, who has struggled to survive all his life, suffering from a disease no one understands. I even found the end inspiring and hopeful. I believe that a person as strong and determined as Salz will go on to achieve his goals.

  • Robin
    2018-12-15 15:58

    Napoli envisions what might have happened to the town of Hamelin during the Middle Ages . . . what horrible events might have led to the town employing a piper to rid them of the rats. The story is told from the point of view of Salz, a boy who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Every breath is precious to him. He is a compelling character who has extraordinary strength in the face of adversity -- he has had to struggle all his life to survive. He lives on the family farm with his father, three older brothers, and grandmother (grossmutter) in 13th century Germany. He is smart and is part of the local coven as well as being devout. With dark undertones, violence, and vague sexual references, this is definitely a book for older readers. Despite all of Salz's hardships and coming close to despair, somehow there is still a bit of hope at the end.

  • Johnathan
    2018-12-06 16:19

    It was interesting to read the book about the cripple's point of view from the Pied Piper fairy tail. I really liked how the book was able to show how Germany made the changes from Paganism to Christianity. In fact the piper part seemed to be just an end for the means to finish the story. I thought it was really creative and a really fun story.Violence: Yes, there is some fighting, killing, and even an old woman gets her hand cut off with a scythe.Language: I think that there are a few swear words, but I can't remember for sure.Sex: It does happen in the story and is mentioned a few times, but nothing happens on screen for the story.Recommended to: I would recommend it to someone who was going on a trip and wanted something to read on the way. Also anyone who just wants to try something new out or looking for something different.

  • Jared
    2018-12-12 16:55

    The best thing about this book, hands down, is the history and research that went into it. Bringing a fairy tale like the "Pied Piper of Hameln" into the real world was extremely well done. I loved reading about this time of superstition and witchcraft. Although there were times when things got kind of dull in the book, overall I thought it was very well done. This book is good for anyone who loves different takes on old fairy tales and such. I would say it's good for all teens 14 and up.Warnings: There is a witchcraft, so if you don't like that, this isn't your kind of book. There is also one questionable scene in a forest, but nothing is explicit and it's even a little difficult to know what exactly is going on...

  • April Helms
    2018-11-20 18:57

    I stumbled across this book trying to find another. The tale takes place in the Middle Ages and centers on Salz, a young boy plagued by horrible coughing spells. The only way he can clear his lungs and breathe is to stand on his head. But Salz also is one of the few to not sucuumb to a mysterious illness that strikes the townspeople and, later, the farmers in and near Hamilyn. What has caused the illness? And can a mysterious and colorful piper whom Salz encounters truly help? A take on the Pied Piper tale, with some Medeival history and folklore thrown in. The author explains all in notes at the end. I read a thorough synopsis on the book and kind of knew what was happening. Modern readers will probably piece much of it together, as Salz almost does. Still a neat read, though.

  • Nancy Chaffin
    2018-12-13 14:10

    Salz is a young boy who lives with his father, brothers, and grandmother on a farm outside of the medieval town of Hameln. He has cystic fibrosis and suffers from coughing attacks that threaten his life. The plot thickens as the community is threatened with rats and a plague that afflicts the livestock and the people. Salz and his grandmother belong to a coven and they try to stop the plague with a particularly powerful spell which doesn't make any difference. This is a very powerful story of the Pied Piper told from Salz’ perspective. Napoli does a masterful job of drawing the reader into the story with her character development and her fast paced narrative. I didn’t like the burial scene – I thought it was too graphic; however, I would be interested in reading another Napoli book.

  • Nikki (Nyx)
    2018-11-26 17:11

    I first read this book when I was in the seventh grade. However I had to return it to the person I borrowed it from before I could finish the very end. The worst part was I didn't actually know the title. A few months ago through the magic of goodreads I was able to did this book again and finally finish. I must say that while rereading this book it was as good as I remembered it but the ending was a big disappointment. I wanted to finish this book to get closure on the story but there was none to be had. Nothing was really resolved in my opinion and I found the ending I waited so long for disappointing.

  • Keir
    2018-11-29 19:14

    This is a pretty decent retelling of the Pied Piper of Hameln story done in the usual Donna Jo Napoli style. One thing really annoys me about this book though and that is that the back cover blurb gives away what could be an interesting mystery which I'm guessing the author didn't intend to be made clear from the beginning. Not only that, the back of the book gets it wrong which makes the story slightly confusing. Whoever wrote the blurb apparently didn't read the book. The bottom line is that you are better off not reading the back of the book or the Goodreads description which is copied from it. Just cover it up with duct tape so you aren't even tempted.

  • Sarah
    2018-12-13 19:03

    So everyone in my SFF class who read this before I got to it said something to me about how I would love it because I'm gluten free. And yup! I may not have CF but you could totes use this book for the GF movement.hahaha but seriously, this is a great way to infuse a fairy tale with new things while still keeping it true to the flavor, time, and setting of the source material (seriously, if I read one more pseudofeminist fairy tale or historical fiction that has completely anachronistic feminism instead of feminism that might have actually existed at the time, I will scream....but I digress). Not a bad read.

  • Jennifer
    2018-12-01 19:11

    I always find Napoli's historical fiction so interesting, and she's also good at interpretive fairy tales. This story is both. A boy in medieval Germany suffers from an unknown lung disease, and his family and town are stricken with a strange illness as well. The people use both witchcraft and church power to try and cure the illness, but they can't find out where the mysterious malady comes from. People in the story are cruel and ignorant, and it was kind of depressing, but I liked reading what went on the main character's mind as he tried to make the best of things and move beyond the limitations of medieval knowledge and culture.

  • Lora
    2018-12-08 17:57

    Interesting so far. Seems to be the story of a 12 yo with CF in late 13th century Germany.Napoli does a great job of making a fairy tale plausible in scientific and historical terms. I love that she manages to capture a realistic local flavor in Salz's experiences and observations, as well as creating a strong protagonist who's survived many circumstances that would have killed others in his time. I thought she pushed the pagan thing a bit far, but I did like how she dovetailed the old beliefs with Christian practices, giving an interesting sense of balance to a very superstitious time.

  • Jared
    2018-12-17 13:02

    The best part of this book, hands down, is the way that it blends fairy tale and history together. It is clear that everything was researched extremely well. This is the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, told in a world filled with superstition and old time witchcraft. While there were times when the book got a little dull and nothing happened, overall I think it was a great story. This book would be good for teenagers who like a little bit shorter books. Those who like superstition and fairy tales will love this fresh take on the story. Teens 14 and up.Warnings: There is some witchcraft and a questionable scene, although one isn't really sure what's happening.

  • Evelyn
    2018-11-20 10:59

    Fairy tale retellings are a big favorite of mine, but this - this was astounding. Donna Jo Napoli has already written a few books that I've really enjoyed, and this one trumps all the others. Salz is an utterly compelling character with a clarity of mind that sets him apart from the people around him. Mein Gott-inducingly written, with plenty of details to create an atmosphere of superstition and mystique, this book's only defect is that the ending is not as sharp as the rest of it. The scientific explanation given in the author's notes in no way undermines the book proper. So, so, so strongly recommended.

  • Jeni Enjaian
    2018-12-10 12:15

    Unlike "Zel," this book was weird from the get go. The only reason I kept reading it was because it was a fairly easy read and I had already invested some time in reading it. Some spoilers below:In no particular order, here are the things I found a problem with in the book. I never really identified with any of the characters. Napoli "explained" the psychotropic LSD effects but not really. Instead, the characters affected acted in creepy, disturbing ways that did not really make sense. The grandmother's death was also extremely creepy.I did not enjoy this book at all and definitely cannot recommend it.

  • Brittney Osterhout
    2018-12-13 12:23

    At first I had a hard time understanding what was going on but once I was able to figure things out I didn't want to put the book down. Thinking about this period of life and the disease that affected them is a scary thing and that they didn't really know what was happening to them. I am very grateful I did not grow up in this time period.Scale of 0-10 (0=none, 10=extreme)Violence -4 hatred among the brothers and an act of murderLanguage -3 very mild language Sex -2 There is one accountAlcohol/Drugs -6 They drink a lot of beer and one account of drug use

  • Howard Cruz
    2018-11-25 11:53

    Once again, a book I read in one sitting, I couldn't stop reading it. the pieces of the puzzle all come together byt the end of the book through the words of a skilled author who more than paints a picture of another view of a classic fairy tale. This bokk takes pieces of history and incorporatesthem into a work of fiction making the story more real than ever, unless i'm mistaken and its just the possibility of it seeming real that came alive for me. I did enjoy this book and hope others will as well.