Saturday, October 3, 2015

The crazy man by Pamela Porter

In 2012 I visited one of my favourite book shops - Woozles in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  While I was there (this was my second visit) the manager recommended The Crazy Man because it is an award winning Canadian book and because we had been talking about verse novels.

The Crazy Man is a wonderful verse novel - and if you have been reading my blog you will know I adore this format - they are always such powerful narratives.

The Crazy Man was first published in 2005 but my edition is from 2011.  This book is not in our school library but you might be lucky and find it in a high school or public library collection here in Australia - I hope so.

The book opens with a terrible farm accident.  Emmie is very badly hurt.  Her dad blames himself but takes his anger out on their dog Prince.  "... my daddy tied Prince up to the tractor shed and shot him with his hunting rifle."

The only visitor to the hospital is her grade six teacher Miss Tollofsen.

"She got out of her car with a fist full
of lilac flowers, and I found out
we had something in common.

Mum put them in a glass of water
and I got to smell them.  Dark purple ones
and light purple ones, Some still
     tight little buds.
Even some white ones, and they all
smelled a little different.

She bought the whole spring day inside
when she did that."

With her Daddy gone, Emmie and her mum need help on their farm.  It is planting time.  Nearby there is a hospital - a mental institution.  The year is 1965 and the air is thick with prejudice and gossip.  This is a book about healing and acceptance.  Amos, who comes to help on the farm, is healed and so is Emmie.  The people in this small town also learn a little about acceptance of difference.

Listen to Pamela talking about her book and reading an extract.  Here is a detailed review.

If you enjoy The Crazy Man you should also read Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse and Love that dog by Sharon Creech.  You might also look for A corner of the Universe by Ann Martin.

I will finish off with another quote so you can get a sense of the power of this writing.  In this scene Emmie has gone to Souris pool.

"Once I was in, I moved like a fish,
    kicking and squirming,
no heavy shoe to lug around. I turned 
in the water.  I floated on my back
and raced underwater,
like nothing had happened
to change me forever."

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