Tuesday, November 17, 2009

William S. and the Great Escape (MG review)

Product description:
"William S. Baggett is a good kid trapped in a really awful family. William has his running-away money ready to go, he's just been waiting until he's older than twelve to leave. When his big brothers flush his sister's pet guinea pig down the toilet, she insists they leave now. And take the two littlest Baggetts with them. So they head out in the middle of the night, ready to escape to their aunt Fiona's house.

Unfortunately the trip doesn't go exactly as planned. It's not so easy traveling with two little kids, and some help from a lonely rich girl makes it even more complicated. Will they ever make it to Aunt Fiona's? And if they do, will she let them stay?

This is the story of four children who learn that sometimes you have to run away before you can find your way home."

I'm a big fan of Zilpha Keatley Snyder and was definitely pleased with her latest book. The story is a quick read and one that families can read aloud and discuss together, with spots of humor, a great cast, and an interesting storyline.

I did have a few "issues" with the story, namely the violence towards the end. Though the story seems geared toward the 8-12 set, I would be a bit uneasy reading the last couple of chapters to an 8 year old, as the main character is described as being beaten, with his younger sisters forced to watch, as their own punishment. Violence is referenced in many spots in the book, but much more subtly than the end. I think it could have been a little toned down to be more age-appropriate.

I love Snyder's cover choices and her characters always stand out and shine in their own special way. The main character, William, was a great male character and one that I think would appeal to boys of the same age set and his younger sister was adorable.

This could be a great read aloud in a classroom, though again, be aware of the violence at the end, or within your family, possibly using the violence as a great discussion starter.

William S. and the Great Escape
Zilpha Keatley Snyder
224 pages
Middle Grade
September 2009
Review copy received from Amazon Vine program

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