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For Annie's tenth birthday, her papa gives her a pad of paper, some colored pencils, and the Klimas family secret. It's called the nuodeema burna, or eater of sins. Every time Annie does something wrong, she writes it down and sticks the paper in a hidden hole in the floor of their house. But Annie is quick to discover that her inheritance has a dark side. With each paper fed to the burna, Annie feels less guilty about the mean things she says and does, but weird things start happening: she stops growing, and soon rats seem to be everywhere, even in her dreams. Annie confronts the secret of the burna, but nothing can prepare her for the truth she unearths. Pete Hautman masterfully spins a modern-day fairy tale that explores the emotional and moral responsibility that's part of growing up.