Two Very Different Books About Two Extraordinary Girls

by Ingrid Law
ages: 9 (I would say 10, but call it fourth gradeish)+

Mississippi Beaumont (she’d rather you call her Mibs) is about to turn 13. The thing is, in her family, that’s when your savvy hits. It’s kind of like a super-power, but it’s not. Mibs’s brother Rocket is trying to control electricity, her grandpa moves land around (to hear him tell the story, Idaho was his fault), and her brother Fish controls the weather. Naturally, Mibs is excited (if not a little bit anxious) to find out what her savvy will be. However, the night before her birthday, her Poppa is in a car accident and lands in a hospital in Salina, Kansas. From there, a series of events unfolds that makes Mibs’s birthday one of the most unforgettable of her life.

Law had charmed with this book. At least, when I started it yesterday, I was. I think if I had finished it yesterday, I might have been bubbling over the top with praise, but I put it down, and didn’t get around to finishing it until later this afternoon. As a result, I felt like it was missing something. Like the end didn’t maintain the momentum that the beginning set up.

In the end, though, I do think it’s a very, very good book, with very, very good characters and a very, very entertaining plot. I liked Mibs’s savvy, and the way she learned to deal with and use it. But it was more than that: I liked Mibs as a character; she was a good-hearted, sweet, girl who was determined and stubborn when she needed to be. I liked the adventure she and her brothers and the preacher kids went on. And I appreciated the ending, even if it didn’t wow me as much as the beginning did.

It’s definitely worth reading.

Daisy Dawson is on Her Way!
by Steve Voake
ages: 6-9

On the completely opposite end of the spectrum from Savvy, we have Daisy. It’s a quiet, sweet little book without much conflict but with some wonderful illustrations.

Daisy is like many other girls: she gets up, she goes to school, she likes animals. The liking of the animals, however, seems to get in the way of going to school. On the way, she stops, watching and helping all the little and big animals she sees. As a result, she’s usually late to school. This amplifies one day, when Daisy discovers that the animals can talk back. This leads to some fun friendships (and some interesting exchanges) and a daring rescue attempt of a sweet dog named Boom.

I think what I liked best about the book was Voake’s matter-of-fact way of handling Daisy. He simplified everything for the youngest chapter-book readers, but he didn’t talk down to them at all. It’s very descriptive, but in as few words as possible, he captures the essence of Daisy’s heart and personality. I also liked how he touched on growing up, ever so lightly, when Daisy is trying to figure out whether or not her gift for talking to animals is a “real” one. She tells herself that she needs to grow up and come down to earth, but the animals — wisely — talk her out of it. Sure, maybe someday she’ll grow up and not be able to hear the animals, but for now, she’s enjoying all her newfound friends.

As did I.

(Just for the record: because these are Cybils nominees, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)

2 thoughts on “Two Very Different Books About Two Extraordinary Girls

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