Cybils nominee: Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction. Nominated by Amy at Hope Is the Word, because she beat me to it.
The rest of it is just as good as the first chapter. End of review.
1. Read this book.
2. If G.K. Chesterton were living now and writing fantasy for middle grade readers, he would be accused of being Jennifer Trafton. Or she would be him. Or something.
3. Since my lovely Z-baby likes maps, here’s a link to a map of The Island at the Center of Everything.
4. How did she or her publisher manage to get Brett Helquist to illustrate? Mr. Helquist is the guy who did the illustrations for Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events and for Blue Balliet’s Chasing Vermeer and its sequels. Perfectly wonderful pictures.
5. Persimmony Smudge wants to be a heroine. How is this ambition different from what I wrote about yesterday, wanting to be famous? Is it different? I think so, but I’m not sure how to articulate the difference.
“The truth was that King Lucas the Loftier had never gone down from the mountain in his entire life It meant no longer being On Top of Majestic, no longer being Lofty. It meant descending into the world of Everybody Else. He would have no idea what to do, where to go, how to behave. He wouldn’t know who he was anymore.”
6. Persimmony Smudge is a wonderful name for a character. So are the following names in the book: Guafnoggle the Rumblebump, Worvil the Worrier, Jim-Jo Pumpernickel, King Lucas the Loftier, Rheuben Rhinkle, Barnbas Quill, and Dustin Dexterhoof. (I’ve always liked the word “pumpernickel”, but I never thought of using it as a name.)
7. Insanitorious. Ludiculous. Ridiposterous. Flibbertigibbeted. Discumbersomebubblated. The presence of these words and others like them in this book compels the logophile to read and enjoy. Word play galoric.
“You said might!” Worvil covered his face with his hands. “Of all the words that have ever been invented, that is the worst. All of the terror in the world hangs on the word might. The Leafeaters might kidnap me and keep me locked up underground forever. They might tie me to a tree and leave me to be eaten by poison-tongued jumping tortoises. A hurricane might flood the Willow Woods and both of us drown . . .”
Persimmony stared at Worvil and discovered that she liked him. He was a coward, certainly, but he had Imagination. She liked people with Imagination.
9. Have you read the first chapter yet?
10. Oh, just buy the book already. (No, you cynical people, I don’t know Ms. Trafton personally, and I don’t get a commission from recommending her book. I do get a few cents if you go straight from here to Amazon and buy the book there.)
“For the last time, I am not the one who puts gifts in the pots!”
“Well, if you don’t, who does?”
“I have no idea,” said the potter. “Who puts words of truth into the strings of a Lyre? Perhaps there some things that we are not meant to understand. Without a few mysteries and a few giants, life would be a very small thing, after all.”