Thursday, April 09, 2009

Guest Post- Debbie Mutford's Review of Claire Mowat's The Girl From Away

I read this book, one chapter a night, to my five year old daughter as a bedtime story. She loved it! She related to the main character with kin in Newfoundland, was enthralled with the whale rescue, and now wants to go mummering this Christmas..

I liked the book, however I feel as thought it was about six chapters too short. It's not that I wanted there to be more events...just more detail. The plot is sufficient and there is enough action, but not enough description.

The main character, Andrea, is supposed to be resentful towards her step-father. I only know this because it's explicitly stated in the book that "Big, smiling, horrible Bradley Osborne [is] determined to take her father's place" (p.5). It's clear enough for a young reader to get the message, but I didn't feel it. Likewise, Andrea is supposed to feel like a fish out of water, but I really didn't get that sense. She gets along fine with her aunt and cousins, people are friendly, she visits every summer. Sure she doesn't have mummering clothes or rubber boots, but I don't get the feeling that she's outcasted or much of an outsider. She's barely there before she's having fun! By chapter four they find the whale which marks the beginning of Andrea's adventures and sense of belonging.

I think the book reads more like the crib note version and could have done with some more details and descriptions. I like the characters, love the setting, and think she does a fabulous job working in references to Newfoundland culture. By adding more meat and detail to the events that occur the relationships between characters would be more relatable, the main character's internal issues more recognizable, and the book more interesting in general.

I liked the book, I really did. I just needed more between the lines.


Stacy said...

I have had the same experience reading books to my daughters... where they absolutely love it but comes up a little short for me, or vice versa. I am glad you still enjoyed it and it does sound like an interesting read. But don't you just love it when you find a read that is a unanimous hit?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Is the author any relation to Farley?

I have found similar issues with books geared to younger readers sometimes, that the subtleties just aren't there.

John Mutford said...

Book Psmith: A book we both agree on is always nice.

Barbara: She's married to him. But when you bring that up she gets angry at Jian Ghomeshi.

Sherrie said...

The books sounds interesting! Maybe there isn't extra details because it's pointed towards young children.

I have finished my last 2 books for the 2nd Canadian Reading Challenge.

Skybreaker - Kenneth Oppel

StarClimber - Kenneth Oppel

I really had loads of fun looking for books for this challenge. I'll watch for another challenge in the future! Have a great evening!!


Wanda said...

My little girl read this a few months ago but it wasn't one we read together. She picked it out herself at the library and loved it!