Who remembers it? Those double-digits felt to me both enormous and miniscule. Two starred-review novels this year hone in on that condition from a character-driven perspective. And they’re under 300 pages.
MO WREN, LOST AND FOUND by Tricia Springstubb is a sequel to one of my almost-top-ten favorites from last year, WHAT HAPPENED ON FOX STREET. Beyond a nicely solid episodic structure with plenty of dramatic tension and just enough credibility-stretching for a ten-year-old audience….I particularly appreciate Springstubb’s ability to communicate complex ideas in a tangible way. p.9 “But the older you got, the more complicated life was. It began to resemble origami, where what you see is a crane or a rabbit, but not the dozens of folds and creases that went into creating it.” That’s a lovely thought, and a lovely sentence, for anyone of any age. But a ten-year-old will get it, and a ten-year-old would think it too.
Kevin Henkes’ JUNONIA gets farther into an interior voice. His character and his story are for a noticeably younger ten-year-old. Henkes’ Alice is turning ten, while Springstubb’s Mo is on the far side, and it shows. Henkes’ language evokes pure emotion in a way that makes it physically understandible to his audience (p.14 “‘Oh,’ was all Alice managed to say. Disappointment seepend into her. Her face was a sad moon. Her big family was shrinking.”). I think of this as narration of Alice’s feelings, not her thoughts. The wonderfully short narration of the disappointments on the way to Alice’s tenth birthday is experiential and unique. The TREE OF LIFE to Springstubb’s TRUE GRIT. But both with happier endings.
Either or both of these might make my top ten. What do you think?
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About Nina Lindsay
Nina Lindsay is the Children's Services Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library, CA. She chaired the 2008 Newbery Committee, and served on the 2004 and 1998 committees. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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