Saturday, October 06, 2012

Ab ovo usque ad mala

I'm still fascinated by the huge range of children's author Sharon Creech. Half of her books are brilliant, timeless snapshots of the complicated family and social dynamics that children learn to navigate. And the other half are disappointments.

Heartbeat was in the vein of two of her other brilliant poetry books (Love That Dog and Hate That Cat), and it's also told in verse. A tween girl who loves running has a school assignment to draw the same apple every day. The metaphor is beautiful: as her best friend becomes moody and obsessed with winning races and her mother gives birth to a new sibling and her grandfather, the girl   The world changes but remains the same and regenerates and regrows and is reborn. Loved this short book.

Ruby Holler, however, was similar to The Castle Corona and The Unfinished Angel in that it projected a pseudo-fairy tale quality in an over-stylized setting. Two orphans ("trouble twins") are adopted for a summer by an older couple who want to take separate trips but not alone.  Like most of Creech's books, it too had an intergenerational aspect to it, but  it was over-simplified for me to find compelling and interesting. It could have been deeper: the parallel aspects of the twins' inseparable nature and the old couple's shared life could have been a richer part of the story. But instead, the antics of a bumbling, corrupt orphanage director were developed  at the cost of the better story - that of the adolescents and retirees finding common ground and building trust.

Of course, I'm still going to read all of Sharon Creech's books! The four that I've absolutely loved and think are beautiful pieces of poetry far outweigh the impact of the ones that seem half-assed in their portraits of human interactions.

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