Middle Grade Monday and Kid Lit Blog Hop
It's been a while since I managed to hook up with the Kid Lit Blog Hop, but here I go. Click on the image above to see the links to other blogs covering books for children!
And now for my review:
Author: Sharon Creech
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2009. 136 pages (per my Nook)
Source: Library (digital services)
With the backdrop of a large family and a theater as its frame, this is a story about twelve-year-old Leo, who has a talent for transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. That's why he's called "fog boy." He's always dreaming, always replaying things in his brain. As an actor in the school play, he is poised and ready for the curtain to open. But in the play that is his life, he is eager to discover what part will be his.
With the universal theme of finding one's true identity, and set amid a loud, noisy, memorable family, Leo's story is one that all kids will relate to. And there's a full play at the end of the book that kids and teachers can perform!
I expect Sharon Creech to provide me with a good read that's also thoughtful and thought-provoking, and Replay did not disappoint. Creech beautifully captures Leo's sense of being the odd one out in his family, the kid who's no good at sports and spends too much time daydreaming. Leo is 12, on that awkward brink between little kid and teen, and he's struggling with a sense of identity. It doesn't help that he's the second of four kids, and his siblings all call him by not-so-flattering nicknames like "Fog Boy," which may be accurate (he does tend to get lost in the fog of his imaginings) but isn't helpful or kind.
I liked, though, that in the end we see that Leo's family isn't icky and disfunctional. They are perfectly normal, dealing with a lot of normal stresses, some worse than those faced by others, some less so. It's just that Leo is at that point in his life when it all feels uncomfortable, like he doesn't know how to fit anymore. He likes to imagine himself doing great and grand things, because he doesn't feel like he is seen by his family, but in fact when he does his part in the school play and does it well, they are there and see it and give him the applause he needs.
This is a very short and easy-to-read story, especially if one discounts the play that follows (it is the play that Leo's class puts on, and it's subject is definitely relevant to the book, so worth reading), but as usual, Creech manages to capture a whole story and present it well. There were also some very funny lines, though I always wonder when I laugh aloud at a children's book if the kids will laugh in the same place.
This might be particularly relevant for middle-school boys (and girls), but it will be accessible and of interest to kids from about 8 up, with nothing a younger child shouldn't read. There is no romance for Leo, just a healthy friendship that we see move to a more mature level, and in the end we see Leo getting the space and the support he needs to grow up.
Full Disclosure: I checked Replay out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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