Quite A Year For Plums by Bailey White

Quite A Year For Plums

Quite A Year For Plums

Bailey White (Adult Fiction)

Roger is in love with a Yankee (although some of those people are just as nice as can be).  Louise arranges letters and numbers so that she can contact space aliens (who are really small by the way).  Della is having a devil of a time painting Dominique chickens (capturing their feet correctly is the hardest part) and has a penchant for labeling her garbage.  And then there’s Bruce who has nightmares about fonts (he’s a typographer and takes these things very seriously).  These and many more wonderfully odd characters live in a small southern town, and they laugh, love, and cry together…because that is what families do.

In the vein of Philip Gulley, Jan Karon, and Ann B. Ross, Bailey White gives us a humorous and heartfelt glimpse into rural America.  In White’s world, the boy doesn’t always get the girl and even the best intentions end in defeat, but she shows us that anything can be made just a little bit brighter and sweeter with just a jar of sweet pickles or a slice of homemade plum pie.

I adore Bailey White, but this novel came up a little short as I had a hard time sinking my teeth into it.  Rather than getting a rich and satisfying entrée, I was instead served several courses of appetizers.  White gives the reader many humorous and delightful vignettes, but when put together, they fail to form a complete and cohesive story.  Quite A Year For Plums is a quick read that doesn’t require a tremendous amount of emotional investment, but its quirky and lovable characters do make for an enjoyable book.  Almost as enjoyable as a jar of sweet pickles or a slice of homemade plum pie.  Almost.

Rating: 3/5

* Book cover image attributed to http://www.amazon.com

 

A Finder’s Magic by Philippa Pearce (J)

A Finders Magic

A Finder’s Magic  

Philippa Pearce (Juvenile Fantasy)

Till goes to bed in despair and wakes up desperate.  So deep is his desperation that you can see it in his dreams.  And one night, someone does see it.  That someone is a Finder.  A Finder that promises Till that he will help him find his beloved lost dog, Bess (for it is her absence that leads to all this unfortunate desperateness).  But finding Bess isn’t easy.  Clues need to be found, witnesses questioned, and leads followed.  Leads that point to a stranger, a thin line of light, and a nursery rhyme.

This book has a rather interesting backstory.  Pearce wrote this book for her two grandsons and it was illustrated by the children’s other grandmother, Helen Craig.  The main character’s name is an anagram of the two grandson’s names put together (Nat and Will) giving us Tillawn or Till for short.  Unfortunately, Pearce died before Craig began illustrating this book and was therefore deprived of seeing the beautiful book that their combined efforts produced.

Pearce gives young readers a wonderful tale of magic, mystery, and mischief.  The story deals with issues of loss and trust and tackles both with charm and humor.  After the book is finished, parents might want to remind their young reader that this is a fantasy book and, under ordinary circumstances, it is never appropriate to go running off with a stranger, especially one who offers to help you find your dog.

In the end, through all the questioning and searching and worrying, Finder gives Till something that replaces his desperation.  He gives him hope and although it’s not what Till wants, it’s what he needs and at that moment, hope is enough.

Rating: 4/5

* Book cover image attributed to www.goodreads.com