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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Caddy's World, written by Hilary McKay. Hodder, Hachette. 2011. $12.99 ages 10 and up

"The world felt safe. Caddy completely forgot the memory of the genie's chilly breath on the back of her neck that morning.
There was nothing to suggest or hint or warn that once again he was about to pick the world up and spin it on his finger."

Oh, I think I'll put this book down and go clean a cupboard or something....NOT! There is nowhere to go but on with the story.

I have admired Hilary McKay's lively and wonderful words through the first five stories about the Cassons...Rose, Saffy, Indigo and Caddy have all found a place in my heart, along with their artistic, unconventional, and loving parents, Eve and Bill.

It can't be easy to write a prequel to this series; yet Hilary McKay does it with panache and a great love for the family whose life we have shared since Saffy's Angel in 2002. Each is a brilliant, funny and warm story about a flawed family whose saving grace is the love they have for each other.
In this tale, the attention is on Caddy and her three best friends. They are 12 and on the cusp of adolescence. Life is beginning to be more complicated by peer pressure, boys and other issues. They love each other, but can be critical and honest when dealing with those personality traits that grate...always with humor and friendship.

The Cassons are dealing with another crisis. Mom has given birth to a very premature baby, and there is grave concern for her survival. In fact, Saffy and Indigo are practicing digging graves with square corners. Dad has come home from London to care for the kids while Mom stays in the hospital with the 'fledgling' baby. Chaos reigns!

In the circle of girlfriends, other issues arise. Ruby, the brainy one, is being entered to win a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school, and she doesn't want to go. She stops working in order to skew her chances. Beth has decided that she is growing too fast to ride her pony any longer; she stops eating in order to stop growing. Alison does what Alison does to attract attention and gather detentions on a daily basis, and then has to face moving far away from her friends when the family house is sold. Caddy is the bravest of the brave, and keeps on loving all of them, despite setbacks. She works hard to keep a lid on everything that is happening at home, and with her friends.

Eve and Bill offer up humor to readers who have met them in previous stories and deal with the choices they have made about parenting and living separately in order to maintain their marriage and family. Bill is often oblivious to the daily drama in a large family, and how much he is missed when he goes to London to work. Eve is so practical, and extremely adept at caring for the children and offering the independence and freedom they need to flourish.
I hope that this is not your first meeting with the Cassons. If it is, don't stop with this one. Make a beeline for the library or your local bookstore and ask for the first five...Saffy's Angel,  Indigo's Star, Permanent Rose, Caddy Ever After and Forever Rose. They are equally delightful. I surely hope that this is not the last time we will hear from them. Are you listening, Hilary McKay???

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