Sunday, March 20, 2011

Savvy by Ingrid Law

But a lot can change in a day. A lot.” This profound statement is at the heart of Savvy by Ingrid Law. Mississippi Beaumont or Mibs as she is better known has almost reached her thirteenth birthday. This should be an occasion for celebration but in the Beaumont family thirteen is the age your savvy kicks in and a savvy is a very unpredictable thing.

Savvy for her older brother Rocket means electrical power, for Fish the next oldest it means power using weather and storms, her mum has the savvy of perfection, Grandma collects radio waves in jars and in two days Mibs will know her savvy. Her birthday celebration is interrupted by a terrible accident –“Poppa’s car was badly crushed, like a drink can under a cowboy boot” - which leaves her beloved father lying in a coma in the far away town of Salina.

Mibs is left home with Fish, Gypsy the baby and Samson her younger brother while their mother and Rocket and drive off to poppa. Then Miss Rosemary, the preacher's wife, moves in takes over. On discovering Mibs is turning thirteen she organizes a party at the church hall but it is a party that is doomed to end in chaos.

When Mibs wakes up on her special day some mysterious things happen. Samson’s pet turtle that had seemed dead for months suddenly comes to life and her little sister “who was as difficult to wake as a slumbering sloth” wakes as Mibs quietly steps out of bed. Mibs is convinced this is her savvy and that she needs to use it to wake her Poppa. What she does not yet know is exactly how the journey to Salina will unfold involving a pink bible bus, Lester the bus driver, Bobbi and Will Junior the pastors children, Samson, Fish and a waitress called Lill.

If you loved Because of Winn Dixie and books by Betsy Byars then you will adore this book. The pace is fast, the adventure is wild and unpredictable and the language of this book is like a potpourri of treasures. When I finished reading Savvy I went back and hunted out some of the wonderful words like persnickety, rickrack, tipsy-topsy, quarrelsome, ratty tatty, itty-bitty, a deep fried pickle of a situation, razzamatazz, harum- scarum, chagrin, moseyed, boisterous confetti, bugaboo, flimflamming, a jig shy of jaybird-naked (this is how Mibs feels in a new swimsuit), with a zest and a zing, and finally this one - full on, snot-dripping, chest-wheezing, jibber jabber wailing – this is Mibs crying when they are still sixty miles from Salina Hope Hospital and all hope seems to be lost.

At first I thought the cover of this book was a little uninspiring but now I can see it is very clever. There are thirteen birthday candles, and you can see a small pink bus moving across the cover on a journey filled with twists and turns and on the back cover the candles are all in a muddle. Now that I see the US cover I really like this one from Puffin UK.

Finally perhaps you are wondering about Mibs and her savvy. I am not going to give this away. As you get to know Mibs her savvy will be revealed and it might surprise you. Here is a trailer from Puffin.

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