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Friday, May 20, 2011

True (...sort of), written by Katherine Hannigan. Greenwillow, Harper. 2011. $17.99 ages 8 and up

"Delly'd been sweating all morning, hauling stuff for the hideawaysis. At lunch, when Clarice got up to make more grilled cheese, Galveston hissed, "You smell like pig perfume." She waved her hand in front of her face, like she couldn't stand the stench. But instead of whomping her, Delly whapped her with a question. "Gal," she whispered, "how'd you like a dead squirrel under your pillow?" That silenced her."

I love this book! Katherine Hannigan creates unique and authentic characters whose hearts are 'at the heart' of this funny, quirky tale of three young people. Each has a powerful way of communicating...Delly with her quick reactions and too often, her fists, Brud with a stumbling stutter that has other children teasing him unmercifully and Ferris, who doesn't speak at all but shows her admiration and concern in more tangible ways. RB, Delly's little brother, is a most amazing child with uncommon wisdom for one so young and an ability to bring peace and comfort to the other three. Once the story is read and savored,  they will each live long in your memory.

 These kids are so real, and honest. They exhibit all of emotions that children do, sometimes making readers reel with feelings of annoyance and frustration. Delly is often contrary and concerned with self; upon getting to know her better we can overlook some of her faults to love her anyway. She is the catalyst for most of the action in the book and I cannot imagine a more endearing friend. I love her unusual, whimsical speech and will keep some of the 'delly'isms in my journal for future contemplation. It is what makes her so unique and original. The glossary is an enjoyable addition and interested readers will find it helpful.

Ferris doesn't talk to anyone, not to her friends, her classmates, her teachers. While she will play basketball with Brud, and go to her 'hideawaysis' with both Delly and RB, she never talks. She will write short messages but they are meant to instruct not converse. RB has a way of bringing peace and calm to Ferris' mind, but she doesn't speak to him nonetheless. They become fine friends, exploring the nearby woods and spending time together every day. It is when Delly discovers the reason for Ferris' silence that she knows she needs someone to help her help her friend. It is a truth too terrible to remain hidden.

This is a tale of friendship, family, discovery and honesty. It is so inspiring to watch Delly learn to deal with  her demons, to respect Ferris' need for silence and understanding and to love and honor an annoying younger brother who has important lessons to teach. These are not perfect kids, but they are inspiring and genuine and they deserve our attention.

If you loved Ida B and wondered if this accomplished author could do it again, wonder no more! She has crafted another exceptional story. There is as much joy as there is heartbreak. Put this on your Mock Newbery list and then push it to the top!!!  

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