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Monday, June 14, 2010

What's In A Name: Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers!  To those of you new to the site, I hope you enjoy your visit and decide to stick around for a while!  For those that have stuck rock, you know it and THAT is how you show it!  (LOL)  Anywho...a small blip of information before we delve into the meat of the post.  If you haven't heard, there is a great new event (may be a little bias on that part) coming to a book blog near you this's called Got Books?.  It's a celebration of books (of course) and the book BLOGGERS that help shine a light on them.  If you'd like to learn more, check out the site....if not, no worries, I won't hold it against, but you will be missing out on some awesome-tastic fun.  (No pressure, really...)  Alright, enough with the promotion....on with the show!

Today's post highlights a recent addition to the Kids Fiction genre and a unique one at that.  It combines a watery tale of mermaids and seas creatures with a story full of heart and love.  Without further adieu, today's book of choice is....


Keeper is ten years old.  Full of life and spirit, she is the apple of the collective eye of Oyster Ridge Road.  Right on the Gulf of Mexico (wow...familiar area), the lives of the residents may seem small and insignificant from afar, but they each play an important role in each others lives whether everyone realizes it or not.  Signe is Keeper's guardian and the maker of fabulous gumbo.  Dogie is Keeper's "employer", owner of a fuzzy one called Too (his dog) and friend-with-a-crush to Signe.  Mr.  Beauchamp is their elderly neighbor who loves nothing more than a good chat and his faithful feline companion Sinbad.  Then there is Meggie Marie, Keeper's mermaid mother.

Yes, you read that right.  Keeper is believed to be part mermaid and she has her eye set on finding her mother after the day's occurrences go seriously awry.  Only the magical powers of a mer-being could set things straight...she's certain of that.  But how does one meet a mermaid?  Certainly you can't just invite them to tea.  Taking matters into her own hands she sets out on a potentially dangerous self proclaimed mission to right the wrongs she has done...but is the risk to life and limb too great?  Will Keeper be in hotter water than she already is?  Perhaps too hot to escape? (dun...dun...dun...)

The idea behind the story drew me to this book, plain and simple. A young mer-girl awaiting the arrival of her mermaid mother at long sounded cute and magical. As I began reading, I couldn't help but feel like the story was stalled.  I mean nearly all of it takes place over the course of one day. When a book is over 300 pages and you are dealing with one day of events, you can't help but wonder where on earth the story is going. HOWEVER, there is so much more at work here. At it's heart, it is a story of enduring love, families that may not be connected by blood (or even species) but are are strong if not stronger for it, and a little mer-magic for good measure. It's about the way the heart, as well as the ones we love, try to protect us from the bad and the worse in life whether they were intentional or not in their occurrence.  Once you get into the writing style and look past the circular loops of time in which Keeper remembers the events of her remarkable day (times two by the book's end...but I must not say more on that...too spoilerish), you get to the underlying marshmallow layer of good times, sweet thoughts, and heartfelt connections.

There are several surprising aspects to the story that are certainly worth a mention.  Those personal connections...the supporting cast of animal characters impart just as much feeling upon the story as their human counterparts.  From Captain the seagull to BD the dog, their lovable presence helps keep things from going way off course...although if they had been heeded earlier, it may not escalate to the point it DOES reach.  Pets can sense when things are off...we just have to be willing to listen.  Another quietly entwined story involves Mr. Beauchamp and someone (can't reveal who or what but it's interesting) by the name of Jack as young boys.  They met in France and were inseparable until an ugly secret was revealed creating a void to hard to pass until it was seemingly too late.  Within this meeting, loss and potential meeting again scenario, it kind of makes you wonder in the way they are described if they are merely good friends or if their feelings are a bit deeper.  (Just something to think on when you are reading....curious to see what someone else saw there.)

An enjoyable read through and through...I'd recommend this lovely book for young readers as well as adults.  Books like these give each age group a different message upon reading them.  Young ones may only be enraptured by the potential existence of mer-people while older folks may only look at some of the relationships and give a humph as they turn a deaf ear to your exuberance.  That's part of the beauty of reading!  It's up for interpretation by every reader and it makes the adventure that more enjoyable, in my humble opinion. 

The release date for this book was scheduled last month (05/18/10), so it should be on shelves near you right now.  If you check it out, let me know!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  Special thanks to Lucille at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing for the ARC to review.  (THANKS)  For more information on this and many other wonderful titles, check out their website, or follow along on Twitter!  (Love that little blue birdie...connecting me to all that I enjoy!)

So...mer-people.  What's YOUR take?  The author includes a rather interesting is not curious section at the end of the book explaining a few of the words used in the novel but on the subject of mer-people, she merely states to "find a body of water".  Certainly makes you wonder...but do you believe?  Share your thoughts and favorite mermaid/merman tails....I mean tales....

Until next time....happy reading!


Dorothy Dreyer said...

I think of all the myths out there, merpeople are probably the ones I least believe in. That said, I would enjoy a good mer-tale, lol.

My favorite - still has to be the movie Splash with Daryl Hannah Tom Hanks. Come on, that was a great story!

GMR said...

Dorothy Dreyer: Oh, come on...really? No mer-people? LOL. Definitely agree with SPLASH was a good movie! Course my other mermaid go to movie would have to be Disney's, THE LITTLE MERMAID. What can I say...I was a Disney kid!

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