Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Newbery Honor Winners Strike Again

In 2009 Kathi Appelt for the Underneath and Ingrid Law for Savvy were winners of the Newbery Honor Award.  With both of their latest books which I just completed reading, they have proven that they were indeed not "one hit wonders."

Appelt's Keeper again crosses into the mixed genre realm of magical realism.  In Keeper as in The Underneath she uses her gift of weaving multi-layers to create a powerful message. Within twenty-four hours, which begins with 10-year-old Keeper uttering "You stupid crabs!", the lives of aging Mr. Beauchamp, war-ravaged Dogie, runaway Signe, a missing mermaid mother Meggie Marie along with the requisite animals of Sinbad, the one-eyed cat, Too, Dogie's dog, Captain the seagull and BD, Best Dog owned by Keeper are disclosed through a series of flashbacks.  What propels the reader forward are revealing, snappy chapters. Keeper constantly examines what happened to turn the traditional highly anticipated day of the blue moon into a personal disaster for all these people living on Oyster Bay Road because of those "stupid crabs".  Certainly the setting of a beach along the Gulf Cost in Texas adds to the ebb and flow of these people's personalities, what brought them to be living in "the world unto itself" and of Keeper floating in a small boat at night trying to make everything right again.  As The Underneath focused on the power of hate and love, Keeper crafts its own definition of family.  This author's writing is excellence times two.
Please be aware that Keeper is edgier than The Underneath in that issues which may be controversial play a part in the plot.  In my opinion this is for older, more mature readers.

Scumble, companion to Savvy by Law is even more fun than its predecessor.  Ledger Kale can hardly wait to turn thirteen.  He is sure that his savvy (magical talent) will propel him into "savvy history".  It doesn't take long for everyone to agree that his savvy does indeed set him apart in a big way as everything around him falls apart. When Ledger's family decides to brave a trip to a family wedding in Wyoming, it is all they can do to get there with the car intact.  Due to Ledger that momentous event will live on in the family annuals for all the wrong reasons--complete and total destruction of one of the barns on the farm, complete and total chaos of the wedding party and an unintended injury to the groom--all witnessed by a bigger than life snoop called Sarah Jane Cabot, newspaper reporter extraordinaire.  And that's just the beginning!  Ledger's parents decide to leave he and his sister at the family farm so he can master (scumble) his wild ways with help from other savvy struck relatives.  It's the addition of what might be weak secondary characters in the hands of any other author that adds to the plot twists and richness of this tale just as it did in Savvy.
In a word-marvelous.

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