Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Where Are We? And How Did We Get Here?

Blurry-eyed I closed the cover of the book thinking, "How did I finish this so fast?".  What I really should have said was not a question but a statement, "I inhaled this book!"  No Passengers Beyond This Point, the newest title out by Newbery Honor winner, Gennifer Choldenko, takes readers on a journey to places yet unseen and into their own hearts.

I should have known that this book would captivate my interest and grab hold of my time when a prologue labeled, Black Crows, speaks of endless waiting for good things to happen but within the suddenness of seconds lost, bad leaps out with a shout from nowhere.  A seemingly normal day begins and then ends with dreams, hopes and normalcy shattered.  There are signs but one does not know to look until thinking too late to glance behind.

In less than two days, three siblings, India, Finn and Mouse, will be leaving the only home they have every known.  Their school teacher Mom tried to save it but the banks have foreclosed.  What is most shocking to them, besides the short notice, is that they are going to Colorado to live with Uncle Red whom they barely know.  Staying behind to finish the school year, their Mom will be living with other family in California.  As the words of the song say---"...leavin' on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again..."

Landing much too early to be Denver they find the airport strangely deserted.  A sign reading Tompkins clearly indicates that they should accompany an odd, baby-faced looking driver with a shocking pink taxi covered in white feathers.  Hesitant they enter the vehicle which does not take them to Fort Baker, Colorado but to Falling Bird, Not On A Map.

Upon entering Falling Bird crowds lining the streets cheer them as movies of their lives play on every possible surface.  Each is led to a dream home that mirrors their every desire.  Within a day though change is eminent, stringent rules dictate their future, each is being wooed, dropped and shuttled from one strange setting to another, choices needing to be made confuse them, time is running out and when it does, will our trio be together?  Where is home and which of them will be there? 

Choldenko has penned a fantasy that takes readers just off the edge of time and space; a realm where what might be resides.  Her characters', India, a teen longing to belong, have a best friend at all costs and rebelling against her Mom, Finn, the middle son ever the peacemaker, worrying and wanting to play basketball with the best of them and Mouse, the five-year-old sister a genius questioning all in her need to know accompanied by her friend, Bing, who may or may not be invisible, interactions so rich in dialogue and thought are what drive the storyline. 

It is their ties to one another that brings this novel to its blazing conclusion complete with an ending astonishing in its possibilities.  Educators and book club fans will be pleased with the discussion questions at the author's web site.

Enjoy this video as Gennifer Choldenko talks about No Passenger Beyond This Point, takes us into her home and we follow her out and about in San Francisco, the setting of Al Capone Does My Shirts.

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