Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunshine yellow shutters and a strawberry red door

So, have you read anything by Gary Schmidt yet? I've already recommended The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now as enthusiastically as I could, and if you've read either of those books I know you're looking for more by the author. You might even have already found Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. We listened to the audio book on a car trip and loved it. It's based on real events in Maine and deals with racism and the ugly consequences - so it's a bit serious - but don't think it's not a "nice" story or that there's nothing happy about it. It's the kind of book you'll be glad you read.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster BoyTurner Buckminster III is the son of the new minister in Phippsburg, Maine. It's 1912 and they don't play baseball the same way as in Boston. Nor do they appear to speak the same language. And as Turner has no friends in Phippsburg, the number at the end of his name starts to feel more and more like prison bars, and he considers "lighting out for the territories." But then he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, the granddaughter of the preacher on Malaga Island, where lives a settlement of former slaves. Lizzie teaches him how to hit a Maine baseball, how to dig for clams, and how to row a boat. But being friendly with negroes is one of many things frowned upon in Phippsburg, and when some influential town members decide the Malaga settlement must go to make room for a hotel to attract tourists, Turner finds himself at odds with lots of people... including his father.

Gary Schmidt has the most amazing and beautiful way with words. He can put you right in his character's shoes, make you feel their pain, and their happiness. You can smell the salty breeze and see the sun shining on a beautiful summer's day. Like I've said before, these are the kind of books that really strike a chord deep down and you feel a real concern for the people in the story. So, do yourself a favor and pick up one of Mr. Schmidt's books - you'll be glad you did. (And you'll probably start looking for the rest of them.)

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