Cover image for Cold Tom
Cold Tom
Prue, Sally.
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2003.

Physical Description:
187 pages ; 23 cm
Struggling to find a place for himself, Tom flees the elven parents who hunt to kill him and becomes involved with human "demons" in the nearby city.
General Note:
Originally published: Oxford, England : Oxford University Press, 2001.
Reading Level:
580 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.4 4.0 70134.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.1 9 Quiz: 33264 Guided reading level: V.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Part human, part elfin, young Tom struggles to find a place to call home in this striking debut fantasy novel.

Tom is both elfin and human, and running for his life. Cast out from the elfin Tribe, he must hide among the hated humans, whom the Tribe call "demons." Tom's Tribe-half seeks freedom and thrives on a connection with nature which lets him "call on the stars" and turn invisible when in danger. But Tom's human side is emerging, and he is confused and appalled by this change. For he fears the twining emotional bonds, which he sees literally as vines, that bind one human to another. But when he is helped by a kind "demon" girl, it is these strong bonds that save him-and draw him to his true home.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-8. Tom's comparatively poor vision and hearing have made him a danger to his Tribe, who begin to hunt him. An outcast from his own people, he leaves the forest and flees to the nearby city, where loutish demons pursue him and a well-meaning female demon imprisons him. As the story unfolds, Tom's point of view is interspersed increasingly with that of Anna, Joe, and Edie, demons who attempt to help him as best they can, though he does not perceive their actions as in that light. Originally published in England as Cold Tom, this unusual novel creates a strong sense of "otherness" between two cultures and markedly different points of view on the same events. Readers may even experience a shock of revelation when they first recognize the familiar described from an alien viewpoint. With a bracing, involving story and satisfying ending, this first novel will intrigue readers who like stories set at the intersection of fantasy and reality. Book was renamed Cold Tom. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a starred review, PW said, "British author Prue makes a noteworthy debut with this highly polished novel about a boy rejected from his elfin `Tribe.' The lyricism of her prose, combined with the raw and sympathetic views of human behavior, makes her novel both original and gripping." Ages 9-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9-Coldness becomes a recurring theme in Sally Prue's enigmatic novel (Scholastic, 2003). Narrator Paul McGann's icy tone of voice increases the drama while Tom hides from his own parents and the rest of his Tribe as the story opens. He knows they want to kill him because he has become a danger to the free, wild, loosely connected Tribe. He is growing larger, less adept at woodland life, and less sensitive in all ways, allowing the possibility that he might give away the Tribe's location to the neighboring demons. These demons are large, loud, and clumsy, and their community lifestyle encroaches on the Tribe's free ways. Through McGann's reading, listeners realize that Tom feels devastated by not being as fit as other members of the Tribe and frightened by the horror of coming close to the demons. But when Tom is forced to run away to escape death and helped by two young demons, we learn that the demons are humans who inhabit a modern city with surrounding lands claimed by the Tribe, half-forgotten legendary beings called elves. The vines Tom sees that physically bind and enslave his human rescuers are the metaphorical human ties of love, family, and community. McGann contributes to the sense of mutual discovery between demon/human and elf/lost boy. But nothing is happily resolved in this story, even when Tom is forced to accept life with the demons. McGann captures this agony of cold, hard loss so well with his tone of voice and depth of expression. Middle school and older listeners who enjoy cerebral fantasy with Tam Lin overtones will enjoy this audiobook, but the tale's philosophical musings over the ties that bind may limit its appeal.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.