Friday, April 1, 2016

Ruby Holler

Ruby Holler
by Sharon Creech
Recommended Ages: 12+

Twins Dallas and Florida Carter got their names from the travel brochures tucked under them in the fruit box in which they were left on the doorstep of Mr. and Mrs. Trepid's miserable orphanage in Boxton. At age 13, they haven't just given up on being placed with a family; they are terrified of it, after such experiences as being locked in a pitch-dark basement all night and forced to dig a well, being bullied by their foster siblings, and being accused of stealing by a foster father.

Then an older couple named Tiller and Sairy offer to take them along on separate trips - one twin accompanying Tiller on a canoe trip down the Rutabago River, the other flying with Sairy to the island of Kangadoon to look at exotic birds. But the twins aren't keen on being separated. And experience has made them skittish about possibilities like being forced to sleep in a snake pit, not getting enough food, and being punished for their frequent missteps. Tiller and Sairy take turns being exasperated with the "trouble twins," concerned about the rotten stuff they have gone through, and inspired by them to see their wild yet peaceful surroundings through a child's eyes again.

This group of characters grows into an odd sort of family during a summer in the remote valley called Ruby Holler. By stages we get to know each of them more and more deeply, while they prepare for their trip, then face a crisis brought on, in part, by the greedy Trepids. To know them is to care about them and to appreciate their unique qualities and experiences. Their adventure is touching, magical, believable, and funny. Their narrator, the author of Walk Two Moons and Castle Corona, tells it with striking economy, leaving the details of how things turn out to the reader's imagination. Among Creech's other notable titles are Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, Bloomability, The Wanderer, Grandma Torelli's Soup, The Unfinished Angel, The Great Unexpected, The Boy on the Porch, and Moo.

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