Today is "J" day at Reading at the Beach's A-Z Wednesday, and the book I found on my shelves was Jip, His Story by Katherine Paterson. I got this book at a library sale years ago, but I assumed it would be a reread because I was sure I had read all of Paterson's books already. She's most famous for A Bridge to Terabithia, but she's written many kidlit books, most of them powerful and engrossing.
But I was wrong! This book was new to me, and everyone one knows the joy of finding an unknown book by a beloved author -- it's like finding an extra stash of Christmas presents under the piano on Boxing Day. All for me. Jip is an orphan boy growing up on a Vermont town's poor farm, overworked and under-loved. He finds friendship in a lunatic locked up in the asylum and with a teacher (who I believe I've met in a previous book). And then he finds out about his parentage, and his father is truly bad news. I really liked this book for its historical setting and its take on the relationships and competency of the people involved. Jip makes some bad calls, but they are true to his development, and he also pulls off some real feats (in which I include waiting patiently). I've recommended this book to my fifth grader, which probably means he will shun it. After all, he only loves about 90% of the books I make him read. A.