I’ve tried to make some headway through a pile of books that I think of as “girly.” That’s perhaps not a nice thing to call them….but they have covers that specifically would have put me off when I was in the intended age range, and so I just always have a harder time getting to them. Nevertheless, there are of course some delights in here, specifically:
THE TROUBLE WITH MAY AMELIA. Here’s where I admit that I still haven’t read Holm’s “OUR ONLY…” (so many book so little…whatever. Lame excuse). But I bring it up to point out that here’s a sequel that stands alone. Not that sequels must, but it attests to Holm’s clarity in character, voice and setting that the world she develops is instantly believable and recognizable to someone who’s never been to it before. A refreshing pace and balance of humor and seriousness make this both a meaty and digestable read. Most of you of course already discussed it here. Mark called the pacing and characterization “rushed,” but I just found them…unencumbered. Well-integrated.The characters were developed through conversation and action, the plot perfectly intertwined to move the characters along.
I’m curious to know what others think of the startling number of capital letters in this story. For some reason, they seem to work for me here, where they don’t for me in LIESEL & PO or THE MOSTLY TRUE STORY OF JACK. I think it’s because here they’re illustrative of May Amelia’s very deliberately articulated voice, rather than being used to try to denote importance to an otherwise vague noun.
I must say: ICK on the cover. This is actually a worse sell than CHIME. If it wasn’t for the cover I’d have read this long ago. The girl picture is far too old, too clean, and too aware of the her cute cap sleeve. Not May Amelia.
Sarah Weeks’ PIE takes the cake for being absolutely no longer than it needs to be. A mystery and frienship story with an absurdist twist, every side character is memorable and the plot zips along to an almost abrupt but wholly satisfying ending. As in MAY AMELIA, the plot serves the characters perfectly and vice versa. No word wasted. For instance, a side scene on p. 120 in the ARC that transpires in a blip of conversation appears to be a tone-setting moment to further establish the parents’ characters:
But a thorough search of the kitchen confirmed what Alice had said: The pie was nowhere to be found.
“That’s odd,” said Alice’s father. “I had the exact same experience today with my shoes and I still haven’t figured out where they are.”
“If you’re talking about your black wing tips, George, I stuck them in a box out on the curb this mroning for the Salvation Army to pick up.”
“You gave away my shoes?”
“You said they pinched.”
“They did,” said Alice’s father. “But other than that, they were perfectly good.”
“Can we get back to my pie, please?” said Alice’s mother. “Tell the truth, George. Did you eat it?”
Oh, I know these people well. And though they seem incidental, the shoes turn up later.
Weeks also gets the award for shameless but forgivable pandering to Newbery nerds. I don’t think she’ll mind if I quote from page 28 of the ARC:
“The Blueberry Award was established in 1922 to celebrate the most distinguished contribution to American pie making. Each year during the month of August, people from all over the country would box up their pies and deliver them to the Blueberry committee for consideration. The committee members would carefully evaluate the pies, “Blueberry Buzz” would spread as the top contenders emerged, “Mock Blueberry” clubs would choose their own favorites, and finally on the first Monday in September, amid a great deal of fanfare, the Blueberry committee would announce the winner.”
Still on my “girly covers” pile: HOUND DOG TRUE, THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, and TRUE (–SORT OF) . Some of these I’ve cracked and sampled. Admitting that my readers-block with these is purely of my own weirdness…any of these I should really, really, make sure to finish?
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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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