Monday, June 8, 2015
MMGM: Stuart’s Cape
This lower middle grade has a ton of whimsy and such a deft handling of magical realism, it will leave you wondering, how did Sara Pennypacker pack (excuse the pun) all that richness in with so few words?
Here is the synopsis (from Amazon):
A quirky, inventive chapter book featuring an unusual hero--an 8-year-old worrier. Stuart's got problems. It's raining. He's bored. And worst of all, he's new in town, so he's got a lot to worry about. What does a kid like Stuart need in order to have an adventure? A cape, of course!
(This short summary doesn’t do the book justice, of course!)
Here’s what I loved:
1. Stuart is a worrier with an imagination. Now I’ve seen books featuring a kid worrier, and I’ve seen lots of books about imaginative kids. But the two together! That’s what makes Stuart unique. His dreams and imaginings are his escape in a way—something very relatable to kids.
2. Magical realism. At times, especially in the beginning, I wasn’t sure if what was happening was real or just in Stuart’s imagination. But the story is told as if it all is, so part of the fun is figuring this out.
3. Creative ideas and solutions. From flying from eating angel food cake to growing toast in his garden—it’s hard to keep up with Stuart’s inventiveness. Just enjoy the ride.
4. An unexpected ally. While Stuart’s parents are your typical, practical parents (albeit with some great lines), Aunt Bubbles is a surprise, just like her name. Read it just to learn the creative ways she gets Stuart out of his scrapes.
5. Friends can be grown-ups too. Throughout the book, Stuart is scared about making new friends at school, although he meets lots of kind grown-ups. It’s a nice change to see grown-ups portrayed as possible allies and mentors in a kid’s book.
I think this would appeal to kids who like Alvin Ho, Lisa Yee’s BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY), and FLORA AND ULYSSES (Kate DiCamillo). If you love whimsy, magical realism, and originality, you’ll really enjoy this book!
Have you read any good magical realism lately?
If you're looking for Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.