Post by Interested Reader on May 26, 2007 12:11:21 GMT -5
By the author of Newbery Honor book, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, this is a book that I think should be on the Mock reading list. For me it was a slow-starter, but it built and built and BUILT into a beautiful and compelling novel of friendship and growth. CHRYSANTHEMUM!
Yes, this book is a slow starter. But it turns into a "Crysanthemum" in the end.
The author brings us through Holling Hoodhood's school year with all of its 7th grade dynamics. Holling ends up studying Shakespeare all year with his teacher, whom he learns does have a life outside of her classroom. He is able to relate the happenings of Shakepeare's plays to his own life. There are many dynamics going on with his family, his friendships and with growing up.
The author does a great job of bringing us into the 60's, by adding historical events into the book. I can't help but wonder if this book wasn't a bit autobiographical in nature.
Having read a substantial portion of the lists for this year's Mock Newberry already, this book is my pick so far. My poor husband had to wait for his dinner while I finished it! I loved how the author reminded us of previous story tidbits throughout the book and how they served to bring to mind the ways in which each character grew. Each main character had a distinct personality and each seemed thoroughly realistic to me. I enjoyed the gradual development of the relationship between Mrs. Baker and Holling--by the time you get to the end, he's stopped imagining that Mrs. Baker hates him. I also loved the detail that he never calls his sister by name until he realizes how much he had missed her while she was gone. So 7th grade boy!
My only complaints about this book, which I think is otherwise excellent: dividing the chapters by month made them a little long and what kind of a name is Holling? Obviously these are cosmetic complaints.
CHRYSANTHEMUM! I have never laughed and cried so much while reading a book. I actually stopped in the middle of the book and said "Wow, the book could end here." But there was much more. Holling's "wars?" were not only with his teacher but his parents, sister, peers, love, Shakespear, yellow tights, rats, coach, Vietnam, etc. He handled his life well and choose his ending to be happy.
Wow! I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. Holling is such a wonderful narrator, another Holden Caufield only with a better sense of humor. Certainly as smart and dramatic. I loved how Shakespeare was discussed, and in such a way that a reader who is not familiar with the plays wouldn't feel lost. Made me want a creme puff, well, one without chalk dust.
And, so it gets even tougher for me to pick a favorite this year.