Monday, September 19, 2016
MMGM: Audacity Jones to the Rescue
I picked this up because Kirby Larson is one of my favorite authors—and I know her historical fiction will never disappoint. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop on voice she led at my local SCBWI conference. How appropriate that should be teaching a class in voice, a skill she excels in, especially in AUDACITY JONES.
Prepare to be inspired by a very talented writer if you pick up this book!
The synopsis (from Amazon):
Audacity Jones is an eleven-year-old orphan who aches for adventure, a challenge to break up the monotony of her life at Miss Maisie's School for Wayward Girls. Life as a wayward girl isn't so bad; Audie has the best of friends, a clever cat companion, and plenty of books to read. Still, she longs for some excitement, like the characters in the novels she so loves encounter.
So when the mysterious Commodore Crutchfield visits the school and whisks Audie off to Washington, DC, she knows she's in for the journey of a lifetime. But soon, it becomes clear that the Commodore has unsavory plans for Audie -- plans that involve the president of the United States and a sinister kidnapping plot. Before she knows it, Audie winds up in the White House kitchens, where she's determined to stop the Commodore dead in his tracks. Can Audie save the day before it's too late?
What to love about Audacity:
1. Language: There is so much to love not only in the voice in this book, but in Larson’s fun word play. For example (about President Taft): “To meet with such largeness!...Beatrice was not referring to the nation’s twenty-seventh president’s girth—which was astounding, that could not be denied—but his political stature.”
2. Multiple point of view—that works: I tend to prefer a single point of view so that I can get into a character, but not when multiple point of view is handled like this. Since this is a mystery, dipping into other people’s heads gave the reader an insider’s view that Audacity doesn’t have, which upped the suspense. Also, every character’s voice and thoughts were distinct in each point of view and seamlessly transitioned. Plus the omniscient narrator often had funny commentary on the events of the story—which gave the story an old-fashioned feel, like it was written at the time of the setting.
3. A setting close to my heart: I am in love with pre-World War I settings—chalk it up to wondering what life was like for my great grandmother, who was born in 1900. It was fun reading about Taft—a president who never gets as much airtime as Teddy Roosevelt. In this book, he's trying to live under Teddy's huge shadow. Tons of fun!
4. Well-drawn characters: Not only is Audacity interesting because of her “longing” for something different in life and her naiveté at times, but her friends at the Home for Wayward Girls, Miss Maisie, Juice the newsboy, and even the antagonists are well-rounded with detailed histories and back stories.
5. Heart, warmth, and humor: As you may see from the quote, this book is filled with heart, warmth and humor. I loved how the kids save the day by working together and the theme of friendship that runs throughout.
My only caveat with this book is that the time period was a little hard to determine until you were well into the book. The cover doesn't reflect accurately reflect the time period, and there's no mention of which president she meets on the backflap, but these are minor things in light of a very good read.
If you enjoy books with lyrical language and omniscient narrators, like INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE or Larson’s other books, especially THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL, you will love Audacity Jones! And if you love Audacity, there is a sequel (featuring Houdini!) coming in 2017!
How can you resist a girl like this? Audacity: “And my mathematics are appalling. Here I am eleven and I can barely do calculus.”
Have you read any fun books lately? How do you feel about omniscient narrators?
(This post contains an Amazon affiliate link, only because it's easier for me to post book covers that way. Thank you for your support!)
To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog.