Oh Yippee! (said with great sarcasm) The publisher of “Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed,” Eric Jackson has a second children’s book that follows the same conservative theme. The new book is called, “The Sky’s Not Falling! Why It’s OK to Chill About Global Warming.”
He has cute titles, but I’m not sure he has anything else going for him. That said, this liberal librarian is probably not his target audience. I can think of many homeschooling conservatives who would love a book debunking global warming.
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd.
Nominated for the Carnegie Medal, this book is my favorite YA novel of the year. It is a powerful look at abandonment, distrust, family, responsibility, love and forgiveness. Shell is a 15 year old who lives in modern-day rural Ireland. With her mother dead, her father has never recovered and no longer takes care of Shell or her two younger siblings. All responsibility falls to Shell to raise her brother and sister. While she struggles to form a home for them, schooling often falls to the side until Shell is forced once again to attend. When a new young priest comes to Shell’s church, the words of the Bible once again come alive for her. Shell struggles with her Catholic religion, sometimes seeing her mother before her and other times unable to make a connection to any type of divinity. As her life continues to become even more complicated, Shell must decide what she loves and who she really is.
There are three aspects to this novel that make it so deeply moving. First is the poverty that Shell and her family live in. Dowd manages to make it very real but not melodramatic. It is handled matter-of-factly as another aspect to Shell’s situation in life. Second is religion. Shell’s struggle with faith, spirituality, and forming her own beliefs is almost physically tangible. I see religion as another fully developed character in the novel. Beautifully and honestly rendered.
The final aspect that makes this novel spectacular is the writing. It fairly sings on the page. One passage that made my breath catch was when Shell sees her dead mother walking on the beach.
“Shell blinked. The figure vanished.
Shell’s heart had a purple cover over it.
When Jesus dies, she thought, you die a little too.”
I’m not sure I can say anything more to tell you how marvelous this novel is. Poetry in prose with a dark depth to it that will leave you aching when you finish it. Recommended to teens and adults who enjoy a novel to sink into and truly experience.
To the Best of Our Knowledge is a great Wisconsin Public Radio program. This Sunday (June 3rd) they will be discussing children’s books. Here is the great intro statement that I heard on WPR this morning as I drove to work:
One of the worst things about growing up is you get kicked
out of the children’s section of the library. I mean, you learn to read
and life is one olong happy string of books, from Peter Pan to Winnie
the Pooh to Harriett the Spy, but then you reach a certain age and you’re
supposed to graduate and spend the rest of your life reading grown-up
books. Well, have no fear. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge,
it’s children’s books, for us.
Great sounding, isn’t it? Authors like Maurice Sendak and Philip Pullman will join in the conversation.
Even if you don’t live in Wisconsin, you can listen to the program later in the week online using the link above. Just click the Listen button and off you go!