Friday, December 17, 2010
Keeper by Kathi Appelt - Review
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
"Find the one who's been missing."
Keeper is having the second worse day of her life. Signe is mad at her, Dogie is mad at her, and Mr. Beauchamp is mad at her. But, it's not all her fault, mostly not anyway. So, she does the only thing she can think of, take out Dogie's boat Scamper and find her mermaid mother. Everyone knows mermaids are magic, so Meggie Marie would tell Keeper how to make things right again.
First, I didn't want to read this book because I couldn't figure out how a 10 year-old could still believe in mermaids. It didn't make sense to this middle school librarian who sees jaded and disenchanted sixth graders on a daily basis. But, I had an ARC and it was on our Mock Newbery list. So, I read it.
We start out in the boat with Keeper and as she remembers things, we get to go back and relive those memories with her. Each time we go back, we get a little bit more of the present story and then we start going back even further. It's like when a boat is sloshing around in the water with little moves forward and backward but always progressing. We don't just learn about Keeper, though. We find out how each of the inhabitants of The world unto itself came to live on Oyster Ridge Road. In this way, the story becomes deeper.
In order for Keeper to find her mother, she must give gifts to the sea and each time she does, I feel she grows up a little, in a sense, away from her need of her mother and closer to the reality of her life.
Appelt melds the story of Keeper, the merpeople, the beasts, Dogie, Signe, and Mr. Beauchamp into one epic story that doesn't seem forced or rushed. Keeper actually meanders, like the boat. And then we get to the end. And it's surprising and frightening and enlightening. But, I can't tell you what happens you have to read it yourself. Give this one to students who like Savvy, When You Reach Me, and Waiting for Normal.