Friday, August 21, 2009


Biblio Bits Savvy by Ingrid Law, read by Lily Blau, Penguin Audio, 2008 (ISBN 9780143143482)
Reading Level/Interest Age 10-12
Format Audio book
Genre Magical realism

Plot Summary
In the Beaumont family, when you turn thirteen you get your "savvy." A savvy can be anything from conjuring extreme weather to moving landmasses to bottling radio waves, and Mibs, who is about to turn thirteen herself, can't wait to find out what her savvy is. When her father ends up in the hospital because of an automobile accident on the eve of her birthday, the plans for Mibs' special day go awry. Mibs, two of her siblings, and two friends from church end up on a madcap adventure aboard a pink bus, trying to make their way to the hospital where Mr. Beaumont is in a coma because Mibs thinks she just might be able to use her savvy to wake him up. Along the way, Mibs learns more than just what her savvy is all about.

Critical Evaluation
This coming-of-age story is a tender and sometimes funny look at the challenges of growing up, magical powers aside. Mibs is a likeable and believable character who is navigating the complex waters of family, friendship, and the inklings of a first romance. This title provides an accurate portrayal of what it means to know and understand yourself and others, even as you (and the world around you) are changing. The author plays with language throughout the story, using repetition and alliteration to add emotion and emphasis. Lily Blau might not have been my first choice as reader for this title, since the southern dialect seems challenging for her and often slowed down her reading.

Reader's Annotation
Think X-Men, think superpowers, think about what it would be like to have an unusual ability AND be turning 13 and you might have an inkling about where this outrageous adventure aboard a pink bus might be headed.

Author Information
Ingrid Law grew up in upstate New York, near Lake Champlain, and currently resides in Colorado with her 14 year-old daughter. Savvy is Ingrid Law's first book. She is planning another book about savvies, though not about Mibs. (Biographic information gleaned from the author's official site and an interview on August 23, 2009.)

Challenge issues
Not witchcraft per se, but certainly magical and extraordinary powers are exhibited in these pages.

Booktalking Ideas
The idea of savvies and superpowers (which one would you pick if you could?) is certainly one that could be a theme for this booktalk, as well as trying to figure yourself out and growing up in an unusual family. The Runaway Princess (Coombs, 2006) and Saffy's Angel (and others) (McKay, 2001) are other titles that would fit with this age, on the theme of being different and being O.K. with yourself.

Curriculum Ties
Tall tales would be the obvious link here, with the idea of savvies as a modern take on this classic type of storytelling. The characters in Mrs. Beaumont's clan use their savvies for good or evil means, which is a bit different, given that most of the Tall Tale heroes (Paul Bunyan, the Jack stories) use their powers for good.

Why this book?
The idea of kids with superpowers (savvies) is a pretty compelling one to a variety of readers. Even though the main character is a girl, the sense of adventure is strong, the characters are realistic, and there are many funny moments so that it might appeal to some boys also (although the cover is a bit girly---could be a tough sell). There is also a real sense of tension that develops as Mibs tries to understand what her savvy is and the full extent of it, which is intriguing because it's not like you get a user's manual with your savvy.

ALA Notable Book 2009, Maine Student Book Award 2009-2010 Reading List, Newbery Honor 2009.

Rockport Public Library owns?

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