Review: Butter by Erin Jade Lange


Butter by Erin Jade Lange

Bullied because of his weight, Butter eats alone at a table with a special bench in the cafeteria.  He sits alone in each class, thanks to his specialized desks.  His parents struggle with his weight to, his mother continuing to try to get him healthy food and his father basically not speaking to him at all.  Butter’s one big connection is with his online girlfriend who doesn’t realize who he is and who is starting to pressure him to meet in person.  As Butter’s life continues to become more and more bleak, he makes a desperate decision: to eat himself to death on the Internet.  When he makes the threat, Butter suddenly gets attention from some of the most popular boys in school.  Suddenly, Butter has friends, a group of kids that includes the bully who gave Butter his name.  But as the day gets closer, Butter begins to wonder if he really wants to commit suicide and how he will survive at school if he doesn’t go through with it.

This book has such a strong premise with the overweight teen bullied into committing suicide in the most humiliating way possible.  What I didn’t expect though was to completely fall for Butter.  Butter is big yes, but in so many more ways that his physical size.  He has a huge sense of humor.  He has an enormous musical talent.  Best of all, Butter is completely human, not stereotypical in any way. 

Lange’s writing skill takes this book from what could have been a morose and vicious read and turns it into a book that really explores the levels of bullying, ranging from a single cruel and inhuman attack to the more subtle and even more dangerous support for self harm.  Along the way, Butter will become dear the reader, as his death approaches, Butter’s dark friendship with the boys buoys his spirits, but readers will continue to see through it even when Butter can’t. 

This is not a book you can put down, because you will have to see how it ends but also because Butter himself is a compelling protagonist.  From its timely anti-bullying message to the thrill of the Internet both for dating and humiliation, this book is a great teen read.  Appropriate for ages 14-17.

Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.

Review: The Man from the Land of Fandango by Margaret Mahy

man from the land of fandango

The Man from the Land of Fandango by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar

My son and I had just stopped in the middle of a rather painful rhyming picture book and then we picked up this one.  The contrast was profound.  Here we found a fanciful and playful picture book with rhymes that swept us merrily up.  It is the story of a man from an imaginary land who leaps off of the page where he is created by two small children.  They dance with a bear and a bison, bound with kangaroos.  There is juggling, jingling, and even cake!  Then the man returns to the picture, not to return for another 500 years.  It’s a silly and very fun book that is filled with nonsense and plenty of jam. 

Mahy’s words really dance here, carrying the story forward on a rhyming flow.  This is not a book that is a straight-forward story, rather it’s a dazzlingly silly wander.  Children will quickly understand that this is pure nonsense and go with it.  Dunbar’s illustrations have a wonderfully light touch.  They are filled with bubbles and speckles.  Whimsical creatures and plants populate the page, often dancing with glee. 

This is a merry read that has a great lightness and silliness at its heart.  A wonderful posthumous release from the amazing Mahy.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.