Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review: Savvy, by Ingrid Law

I read numerous positive reviews of the children's book, Savvy, in 2008 when it was first published. There was something about the plot that didn't hook me though, and it never ended up in my reading queue. Recently, we visited a library that we don't usually frequent, and they had a display of Newbery Award winners and honor books, and there was Savvy. I pulled it off the shelf, along with Princess Academy which I have also never gotten around to reading, and I just finished it.

It was a quick read. My copy was soft cover with a gorgeous cover illustration and huge print that was easy on my eyes. The book tells the story of Mississippi Beaumont (just call her Mibs) and how she turned thirteen. You see, the Beaumont family is mostly just like other families, accept each member of the family develops a special talent, known as a "savvy", on their thirteenth birthday. Mibs's thirteenth birthday is complicated by family troubles, mistaken savvies, over zealous adults, and troubling interactions with peers. The resulting journey leads to a whole lot of growing up for Mibs and her older brother Fish and their friends.

I liked the fact that this book dealt with a whole lot of problems without being overly negative. I also liked that the children had power, but there was some realism tucked in there to make it all a believable story, even if it did have a tall tale feel to it. The feeling of realism managed to hold out right through the end which is often not the case with fantasy novels, where magic often much too easily solves everyone's problems. At the same time, I didn't like the fact that most of the story's plot lines worked out OK. I just felt that it was a little too optimistic. (It is odd for me to say that!) This may simply be due to my own cynicism and feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy, but it keeps this book from making it to the top of my favorites.

I recommend Savvy particularly for girls and boys between the ages of 10 and 15 who like fantasy and/or tall tale type novels. There is a lot of adventure in this book. Its reading style is easy, and I particularly think it might appeal to kids who find longer or more difficult novels overwhelming. It could also make an exciting read aloud for multiple ages or in a 4th through 6th grade classroom.

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