Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Wager

The Wager

Donna Jo Napoli

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)




Don Giovanni was once the wealthiest and handsomest young man in Messina. Then a tidal wave changed everything. When a well-dressed stranger offers him a magical purse, he knows he shouldn't take it. Only the devil would offer a deal like this, and only a fool would accept.

Don Giovanni is no fool, but he is desperate. He takes the bet: he will not bathe for 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days. Beauty is a small price to pay for worldly wealth, isn't it? Unless he loses the wager—and with it his soul.

Set against the stunning backdrop of ancient Sicily, Donna Jo Napoli's new novel is a powerful tale about discovering what truly matters most.

Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year


Messina, 1169
DON GIOVANNI LOOKED OUT THE CASTLE WINDOW OVER THE strait that separated the island of Sicily from the mainland. He fingered the fine silk of his shirtsleeves and smiled. "The sea is bluer because it's mine."
"Don't be absurd."


Praise for The Wager

“Napoli expertly sets the scene for this retelling of a traditional Sicilian tale…The lifelike, tactile details of the story make it all eerily real.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Readers follow Don Giovanni's journey of the flesh and spirit as he suffers humiliation and physical decay; descriptions of lush feasts and brightly colored brocades give way to wretched scenes described in lurid detail…Napoli never underestimates her audience, depicting human nature at its worst and its best.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Evocative of Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha, this marvelous story is well told, and the rich, sophisticated language will grip skilled readers.” —School Library Journal

“A surprise twist leads to a satisfying love story and closes the novel with more joy, and fewer devilish triumphs, than the original tale.” —Booklist

“No hero ever deserved a happy ending or a bath more.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Napoli ably describes the ensuing tribulations Don Giovanni undergoes as he becomes more offensive to be around even as he longs for companionship for the first time in his life.” —VOYA

“Impeccable pacing conveys the burden of the three-year ordeal, and even those readers for whom the end is no surprise will breathe a sigh of relief to find Giovanni reclaimed and within reach of happiness.” —BCCB, STARRED review

“There's something rotten at the center of this novel-length fairy-tale retelling, and that's what makes it so delightful.” —Horn Book Magazine

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Donna Jo Napoli

Donna Jo Napoli teaches linguistics at Swarthmore College. An acclaimed author whose books have won such honors as the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the Golden Kite Award, Donna Jo lives with her family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

Donna Jo Napoli

Barry Furrow

From the Publisher

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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