Children’s Book Blog Tour – Savvy, Day 2

    Don’t forget to participate in the poll to determine the winner of the April CSFF Top Blogger Award. Round one ends Wednesday.

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Since I posted yesterday about Savvy, Ingrid Law‘s award winning middle grade fantasy featured this week by Children’s Book Blog Tour, I thought considerably more about the book. (I think that’s one reason I like blog tours—they force me to me more thoughtful about what I’m reading).

In this case, my thoughts centered on the main character, Mibs Beaumont. Here’s the thing—in the first fifty or so pages, I didn’t like her so much. She seemed quick to judge, even those who were sympathetic to her and were trying to be a help. She also seemed like a social misfit, and happy to be so.

As it turns out, she is a social misfit. Members of her family each receive a “savvy,” a superpower, when they turn thirteen. Because her older brothers are still in the process of learning to control their newly obtained powers, the family stays to themselves for the most part.

As the story opens, Mibs is days away from her first teen birthday. But things don’t go as she’d dreamed. Her father is in a serious automobile accident, and the doctors don’t know if he will survive.

Mibs’ reaction?

For half of a half of a half of a second I hated Poppa. I hated him for working so far away from home and for having to take the highway every day. I hated him for getting in that accident and for ruining our pot roast. Mostly, I realized that my perfect cake with its pink and yellow frosting was probably not going to get made, and I hated Poppa for wrecking my most important birthday before it had even arrived.

Though Mibs immediately feels shame, for me, the damage was done. This honest reflection made me see Mibs as a selfish, immature girl, not as a struggling almost-teen.

But that changed. Ironically, my sentiments toward her changed because of her relationship with her father. Before his accident, he bought her a special party dress. As she describes the gift, it’s clear her father thought it was beautiful and she thought it was beautiful, but in reality, it was … less than fashionable.

“I thought my little girl deserved something pretty and new to wear for her special birthday,” he had said the night he handed me a big white box held closed by a thin, round strand of stretchy gold elastic. The dress inside the box was pale yellow with a high sashed waist and a full skirt that was sewn with deep pockets. Double rows of white rickrack zigzagged its way around the hem and around the seams in the short cap sleeves. But the very best part of the whole dress was the big purple flower made from soft silk ribbons that was pinned up high on the shoulder like a corsage.

Because of the dress, Mibs finally sees herself a bit like her peers see her.

Bobbi looked at the big purple flower on the shoulder of my dress and rolled her eyes. “Happy birthday,” she said in a tone that sounded more like “Drop dead.” Then the other girls began to whisper and laugh as they mixed ginger ale and rainbow sherbet into pale yellow pineapple juice that was the same color as my dress …. Suddenly, as I looked at those teenaged girls in their teenaged clothes, I felt younger than twelve-turning-thirteen and my special-occasion dress felt not-so-special. I realized that I had just turned into a teenager myself, and there were changes coming in my life that didn’t have anything to do with my savvy.

By the time Mibs rips from her special-occasion dress that purple flower she had liked so much, I’m feeling for her and wishing she’d never had to see herself differently.

Is the early portrayal of Mibs a serious flaw? Not a serious one because I was wholeheartedly rooting for her in the end. But to capture a reader’s heart in the beginning, to make a character lovable from the first page, even in the face of realistic revelations of the ugly thoughts … that’s what I think makes a book special.

I’ll give a full review of this good book tomorrow. In the meantime, I recommend you enjoy an excellent interview with Ms. Law over at All About Children’s Books or read the review at The 160 Acre Woods.

In fact there are several other interviews and reviews, so visit as many of these participating blogs as you can squeeze in:

8 Comments

  1. i loved this book! here’s to hoping for sequels! lol
    great post, i’ll have to see the full one tomorrow!

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  2. […] Becky, at A Christian Worldview of Fiction, says she didn’t like Mibs in the beginning but grew to like her. She tells why. What do you all think? […]

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  3. Hmmm. Very interesting. I remember very well the place where Mibs hates her father for just a moment. And I remember that she struggles a little with the fact that she doesn’t pray for him to be healed that night.

    I wondered when I read those if the author was going to develop that thread–kid struggling with feelings of resentment toward ill parent or sibling who is interfering with life. I think one of the reasons that moment stood out to me is that it felt like it wasn’t fully earned. The father hadn’t yet interfered in Mibs’plans. Her first reaction should have been concern for him, maybe, and then resentment later, on the day of her birthday. But later she would have been unlikeable for hating him, I think, because by then she was beginning to understand just how sick he was.

    So maybe it would have been best to simply have left that true-to-life reaction toward chronic illness in the family, out of this book. She wasn’t reacting to chronic illness, she was reacting to sudden illness and so it makes sense that you thought she was selfish.

    But…I didn’t dislike Mibs at all for her feelings. I guess that’s because my husband was paralyzed and I know living with someone else’s disability is frustrating at times and does make you feel cheated. And Mibs’ thirteenth birthday is something she’s been waiting for not just for weeks and months, but for years. It’s huge. And suddenly her parents aren’t going to be there.

    And she didn’t know how sick he was.

    And she only hated him for half of a half of a second. And then she repented.

    Man, this is a thought-provoking post. I didn’t love Mibs as much as I loved the book. I mean, she doesn’t feel like my best friend. I didn’t connect with her as deeply as I connected with…say…Anne Shirley. (OK I doubt I’ll ever connect with any character the way I connected with Anne.) It’s worth wondering why that is.

    Maybe I thought she was selfish, too. I didn’t like that she added to her poor mother’s worry. The woman must have been out of her wits wondering if her children were dead or alive on top of wondering if her husband was going to live. I thought at first that the kids would never have been that silly as to not let their mother know they were OK. Then I chalked it up to the story being a tall tale. It really wasn’t designed to be true-to-life.

    I still think that’s the case. The bus trip couldn’t have happened in real life. The adults reactions to one another and to the kids were over-the-top. The whole bus trip was over the top. But it may be that I didn’t fall completely in love with Mibs because it’s not that easy to fall in love with an over-the-top character.

    Definitely worth chewing on. Thanks!

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  4. wow that’s a long comment. I should have blogged it. Sorry.

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  5. What I loved about Mibs is her unabashed honesty. She just lays it out there, and I’m constantly hedging my opinion behind worrying what other people think. Of course, I’m no longer thirteen, so maybe that has something to do with it. 😉

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  6. That’s true, Bellezza. She learned, for sure, not to worry about what others think.

    I loved her voice, too. Loved the way she saw people at a deeper level than most of us see.

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  7. […] Christian Worldview of Fiction 1, 2, […]

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  8. […] Children’s Book […]

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