A charming read in which fantasy elements meet a modern Tall Tale.
Note: This book is followed by "Scumble."
Mibs Beaumont is excitedly awaiting her thirteenth birthday, the birthday on which Beaumont children first exhibit their "savvy", a special ability. Her oldest brother, Rocket, creates electricity. Her next brother, Fish, can cause hurricanes. Mibs is sure that her own savvy will be somethong wonderful, but two days before her birthday, her father ends up in a coma. Convinced that her savvy can save him, Mibs stows away on a Bible-delivery bus, only to find it heading in the wrong direction!
The Beaumonts are good kids, by-and-large, though their stowaway antics involves some lying and deception, all of which is discovered later.
The Beaumont family attends church every Sunday, and one of the main characters delivers Bibles for a living. Mibs makes some bargains with God involving the safety of her Poppa.
I felt a little ambivalent about the way the pastor's family was portrayed in the story. Miss Rosemary, the pastor's wife, is a slightly overbearing woman who pushes her sense of the way things should be done onto other people. Still, she clearly means well. I was somewhat unhappy about the way Pastor Meeks was portrayed in the first scene in which we see him, yelling at the Bible deliveryman, Lester, because all the Bibles in the order are pink. There is a welcome scene later, when his missing children are found, that you can tell he is offering up a prayer of thanks. The Meeks' daughter, Bobbi, has some rebellious characteristics, though their son Will is polite and engaging. It will be up to the reader to decide whether this portrayal of the family is accurate, offensive, or somewhere in between.
Fish is fast to defend his little sister, resulting in a black eye and some scratches. The children later assault a rather unsympathetic character in an effort to make her reveal where she has locked up their little brother.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Mibs encounters a homeless man who smells of drink.
One character fathered a child when he was very young, presumably out of wedlock. It is also unclear exactly what Lester's relationship with his girlfriend has been, and the reader is left to make their own assumptions.
One of the characters kisses another. While the character receiving the kiss is quite young and doesn't feel ready for it, she handles the situation well, and so does the boy. I was very pleased with the way the author handled this relationship.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
A couple of girls alter Mibs' full name, Mississippi, into the cruel nickname "Missy-pi**y", which they use several times. There are a few incidents of belching, and one of spitting. We are also told that a couple of characters curse, but the words are not given.
While I didn't care for Mibs' cruel nickname and might adapt it if reading aloud to a child, I was very pleased with the book on the whole. The writer has a charming writing style, using words which were often unfamiliar to me. I found myself wondering whether they were bits of regional dialect or terms she had invented herself, but it didn't really matter: they all served to make the inside of Mibs' head (the story is told in first-person) a delightful place to be, and the context always made the meaning of the words clear. The characters are funny and the situations heartwarming, and leave the reader wondering at the end if they don't have their own special "savvy".