Thursday, September 3, 2009
Curse You, Barbara O'Connor
I have just finished reading The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, by Barbara O'Connor. Check out her blog for a list of lovely reviews this book has already received. You all know from reading my blog that I am a huge fan of hers but. . . everyone has a clinker of a book once in awhile.
Not Barbara O'Connor.
Doggone her. Once again, she proves why she needs to be teaching the rest of us how to tell a story. Within a few pages, we are right there with Popeye waiting for something more interesting to happen than watching water drip from a heart-shaped stain in the ceiling. It makes me crazy how elegantly she creates character. It's like origami -- take one small square of paper and a few simple folds and voila, you have a lonely boy with a fondness for words and a longing for something more or a vexed grandmother who memorizes the royalty of England or an uncle who, when he works, sells smoke-damaged rugs out of the back of his truck.
One day a silver motorhome gets stuck in the mud near Popeye's house and he meets a passel of kids who are a cross between the Herdmans and the Penderwicks (leaning more to the Herdmans). The oldest is a Pied Piper of a child named Elvis and it's with Elvis that Popeye has his small adventure.
What I love most about this book is that it genuinely celebrates the amazing discoveries of childhood -- that not all families are like our own, that creeks provide unending educational opportunities and that the greatest mysteries of life often come sailing past us in disguise, even in boats made out of Yoo-Hoo drink boxes.
A must read!