Sunday, December 2, 2012

Tillerman saga by Cynthia Voigt

These  books are probably more suited to high school students but I just wanted to mention them because I had have a very enjoyable couple of weeks re-reading this series.  For me reading these books feels like a delicious neverending meal filled with an abundance of every favourite food. I just needed to keep reading and reading.

The Tillerman books begin with The Homecoming.  Dicey, James, Sammy and Maybeth are left sitting in the old family car.  Their Momma simply walks away.  Dicey knows her Momma is very ill so she decides to shepherd the family to the only relative she has heard of - Aunt Cilla - who lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The only way the children can get their is by walking.  They may have very little money but they are a determined bunch ably led by Dicey and so this first book is the beginning of their journey to a new life and to a place where they can feel safe and hopefully find answers to their questions about Mamma.

The second book is Dicey's song and in this installment the children begin to carve out a new life with Gram. Dicey herself grows stronger in self confidence, James and Sammy love their new life and Maybeth starts to blossom.  I especially love the shy and quiet Maybeth.  Along the way they make some new and very special friends.  Be warned there is a great deal of delicious food in this book including chocolate cake.

After you read the second book the order really does not matter. I like to think of this series as a set of interlocking jigsaw pieces.  Each book touches the others beside it and helps fill in more and more details of the picture.  The remaining books are Sons from afar, A solitary blue, Come a stranger, The Runner and Seventeen against the dealer.

There is not one wasted word in these emotional books by Cynthia Voigt.  I have struggled to select a piece of writing to share... there are so many beautiful words in these books.  Here is a terrible scene from Dicey's song.  The teacher asks the students to write "a character sketch ... about a real character they had met, someone they knew.  He wanted them to show the conflict in a real person's life."

Dicey writes about her Mamma.  "She hadn't any training for the kind of job that paid well, so she was always thinking about money, hoping she would have enough. Every sweater she owned had holes in it.... She had long hair the colour of warm honey in the winter, the colour of evening sunlight in the summer. She walked easy, with high narrow shoulders, but loose, as if the joints of her body never got quite put together. She walked like a song sung without accompaniment."  "So Mrs Liza did about the only thing left to her to do . She went away into the furthest place she could find. They cut her hair short. She didn't notice that, lying there, nor when they fed her or changed the sheets. Her eyes never move, as if what she was looking at was so far away small that if she looked off for a second it would be gone."  The terrible thing is her teacher does not believe Dicey wrote this brilliant essay.  He accuses her of plagiarism.  This is one of the most devastating scenes I have ever read in a book.

Listen to this review of A solitary Blue which focuses on Dicey's friend Jeff.  I hope you can discover this series and even fall in love with Dicey and her family just as I have.

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