Heavy Medal Finalist: THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE by Kekla Magoon
From the opening pages of THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE we are immediately captured by our main characters Caleb and Bobby Gene. Trading their baby sister for a bag of fireworks? It’s hilarious, it sets up our characters personalities instantly and it also highlights Kekla Magoon’s brilliance at character development. From this small moment early on, we are given a glimpse into the eagerness and naivety, setting them perfectly for a wild ride with Styx Malone.
Styx Malone is an engaging and layered character himself. Styx finds people he can be in charge of and possibly even manipulate into his plans. He’s such an interesting older teen that Caleb and Bobby Gene are drawn to him from their first meeting. Styx makes things more exciting. Yet we know as readers that Styx is hiding something, or at least we suspect. And we uncover those layers of what makes Styx Styx as Bobby Gene and Caleb start peeling away the mask as well.
Caleb is enthralled by Styx and takes everything he says at face value. Of course Styx is awesome and his plan will work! Bobby Gene is starting to grow up a bit, so he’s starting to become more cautious and we find him tiptoeing around the truth at times. He wants to believe in the Great Escalator Trade, but he has his doubts. Caleb on the other hand is all in. Through these two boys and their interactions with Styx, we see a well-written look into tweens. In Caleb and Bobby Gene we see the delicate balance of growing up and the growing pains that come with it. Yet, Magoon never bogs the story down in sadness or despair. As Bobby Gene starts to feel as though he’s uncovering more of Styx’s story and background, it never feels sad, but instead honest and as though childhood innocence is slowly fading away.
As a coming of age story, THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE excels in character development and capturing that strange time in life between childhood and adulthood. Caleb finally understanding what his father means by extraordinary is such a big moment for Caleb and you can feel him grow in that moment.
THE SEASON OF STYX MALONE an excellent example of a beautiful and tender coming of age story that is funny and smart with memorable characters.
Introduction by Sarah
Readers are now invited to discuss this book in the comments below. We’ll focus on positive aspects initially; any time after 12:00 noon (EST) the discussion can broaden to include concerns and weaknesses as well as the strengths.
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Steven Engelfried
Steven Engelfried was the Library Services Manager at the Wilsonville Public Library in Oregon until he retired in 2022 after 35 years as a full-time librarian. He served on the 2010 Newbery committee, chaired the 2013 Newbery Committee, and also served on the 2002 Caldecott committee. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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