Savvy, by Ingrid Law, was one of the books I received in my big box of Penguin books from Presenting Lenore and it is a winner. Ingrid Law spins a delightful yarn that manages at once to be contemporary and timeless. Her aw-shucks wordplay gives the story the feel of a tall tale, but the characters are easy for contemporary readers to relate to. In Mississippi (Mibs for short) Beaumont's family, the children receive a "savvy" on their thirteenth birthday. Her brother Fish created such a powerful hurricane with his savvy that the family had to move inland while he learned to control ("scumble") it. So it's easy to understand why the Beaumonts are homeschooled once they reach thirteen, but while this is accepted by the characters, it seems a bit lonely. When Mibs's father is hospitalized shortly before her thirteenth birthday, she fervently prays for a savvy that can save him. When a long-dormant pet turtle wakes up that morning, Mibs decides that her savvy must be waking things up and she must get to her father immediately. She hides out in the bus driven by a Bible salesman, but she's not alone. Her brothers and the preacher's kids are along for the ride. Law spins out a lovely journey with this odd crew, and along the way, Mibs learns about her savvy, which turns out to be just what is needed. This is a charming coming-of-age story, a tall tale, and a journey, packaged in irresistible language, and it's hard to put down. Mibs is a delight and her earnest desire to save her father understandably blinds her to the truth and sends her on a reckless (but memorable) journey. I predict that Savvy will become a classic.
Note: Savvy is a 2009 Newbery Honor Book! I will have to check out Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, which won the Newbery Award this year. For the full list of Newbery Award Winners and Newbery Honor books, click here.