Good sweaty morning to you all! I’m particularly excited today because I am unleashing upon you all my first submission for the Small Fry Safari Kid Lit Readers Challenge 2014! If you don’t know what this is, you should immediately click on the delightful button directly to the right of this sentence and inform yourself. We’ll wait. Go on.
Right then! I am submitting Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera in category 5 – something that comes in pairs. Can’t guess why? It’s WHEELS! Wheels generally come in pairs when attached to an axle. And just so you know, I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley – thanks!
Hope is a Ferris Wheel follows a school year in the life of ten year old Star Mackie, who has recently moved to a new town and is finding it difficult to make friends. This, she suspects, is due to a number of factors – her attractive blue “layered cut” that the other kids call a mullet, her classmates’ inexplicable dislike of trailer parks as a place of residence, and the fact that she is new and a bit different. Star begins a quest to make friends by starting a club and after a few false starts – The Trailer Park Club not attracting the level of interest she initially expected – the Emily Dickinson poetry club opens some new doors for Star as well as giving her a few new headaches. Add to this the ongoing drama of living with a busy single mother and a creative, yet misunderstood older sister and Star’s life is all getting a bit complicated. And we haven’t even mentioned her mission to finally meet her dad.
Round and round Star goes
Where she stops nobody knows
Least of all herself!
This book is a real little charmer. It’s aimed at a middle grade audience and reminded me in some ways of the old Judy Blume books, with a heavy emphasis on a young kid just beginning to emerge into a more grown up world and having to navigate a way through strange new problems. Star is a very likeable narrator with a refreshing naivete regarding the big bad world. The child characters in the book are nicely fleshed out and although they have some stereotypical aspects – there’s Denny, the grumpy, protective older brother, and Eddie the tough kid – those aspects never make up the whole of the character.
One of the big drawcards for this book for we shelf-sitters was the theme of poetry running through the book. Star falls in love with an Emily Dickinson poem about hope after a lesson from their teacher, and later finds out that Eddie, the tough guy, happens to be a dab hand at poetry too. The poetry club forms a great backdrop for the kids to come out of their shells and find common ground in an otherwise shaky social situation.
There are a few adultish themes running through the book, mainly related to Star’s older sister, but nothing that a reasonably mature middle-grade audience couldn’t handle. Overall, this was a quick, memorable read and one that approaches the beginnings of growing up in a fun and engaging way. Hope is a Ferris Wheel is due for publication in early March.
So now I’m off to link up to the Small Fry Safari – even if you’re not signed up, hop on over as there are already some eager safari beavers who have submitted some entries! Hi ho, Safari, AWAY!
Until next time,