Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Plot Before Character: Scumble

I enjoyed Ingrid Law's first book, Savvy, quite a lot.  I'm not the only one; it garnered an Newbery Honor. So I was very chuffed when I received an ARC of her second book, Scumble.   This was many months ago.  I started it quickly, but when my fourth grader saw the cover illustration he asked to read it.

I had forgotten what a glacially slow reader he is.  He brought it to school and read it in their 30 minute reading periods, of which 20 minutes are usually spent chatting with his friends, probably about where he could have put his book -- oh wait, there it is in his desk, just like yesterday, and yes, this is an ARC that he got so he's reading this book before anyone else except yes, there it is in the book catalog because if you read a book for MONTHS it eventually gets published.  I eventually checked another copy out of the library so he could read it at home as well.  Also, he loved it and I suspect kept going back to reread favorite passages.

By the time I got it back I had to start from the beginning, which is one of the weakest parts of the book.  The voice of the first person narrator is fresh and believable, but his habit of wallowing in guilt for things that are clearly not his fault bugged me.  And his mother's savvy horrified me and left me gasping in disbelief that her family still tolerated her.  But once Ledger got left by himself in Wyoming I settled down and enjoyed myself.  I still felt that the author had some Ideas she wanted to say about children following their own dreams instead of their parent's plans, and how facing your fears is better than ignoring them, and sometimes she really forced events and people to illustrate these Ideas.  I don't remember bothering about that with her first book.  B

My family is group reading a book each month (well, that's the plan) and for this month P picked Scumble.  Since I just finished it, we'll probably be going out for a discussion soon.  I'll report back then. Oh, and my real book club just met for our January Movie Meeting, which was a fun Katherine Hepburn farce.  I missed the beginning because I was cheering A along at a gymnastic meet.  Kids today are amazing, and especially the ones in my family.  She was all over the bars and on top of the beam and doing something on the vault and flipping herself around on the floor.  Go A!


Ms. Yingling said...

This one came down on the "too quirky" side for me.

MotherReader said...

I found even the first one came down on the "too quirky" for me.

But mostly I just wanted to sympathize - or whatever the right word is - with being the mom of a slow, slow reader. My older daughter devours books, but my tween reads so slowly that I have to bite my tongue to not say "you've only read twenty pages in this hour!" Because of this, I spend some time reading aloud to her as well or she'd only get through four books a year. ;^)