Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 74.
- Review Date: 2008-08-25
- Reviewer: Staff
With its introspective mood and measured pace, this quietly captivating novel marks a new course for National Book Award–winner Horvath (The Canning Season). Newly restless with the comfortable cadences of her family’s daily routine, Jane, 12, prays for adventures and finds plenty, thanks to the inhabitants of the Massachusetts beach town where she lives. The townspeople’s eccentricities are classic Horvath, but this time the protagonist takes charge of her own self-discovery; she becomes the storyteller instead of being the audience. As she comes to realize that “everyone in the whole world is, at the end of a day, staring at a dusky horizon, owner of a day that no one else will ever know,” Jane begins to sense what lies behind often flamboyant facades, understanding that the surly woman who has blackmailed Jane into a summer of babysitting can be “touchingly proud” of her waitress uniform; that the town preacher Nellie Phipps is mostly fascinated with herself, despite her talk of spiritual growth; and that a standoffish neighbor can come through in a crisis. A compassionate spirit infuses this luminous tale. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
An unforgettable summer by the sea
If you're reluctant to say goodbye to summer, try reaching for this sun-soaked treasure for young readers by National Book Award-winning author Polly Horvath.
"All summers take me back to the sea," begins Jane Fielding, who is part of a quirky, jam-loving family consisting of her mother, a poet, and three younger siblings. They live year-round at the beach, where little Max is always imagining he sees whales, and where Felicity Fielding feeds her four children strawberries, oysters, blackberries, blueberries and clams.
But this summer, when Jane is 12, she wants something more than the usual wading and reading and castle-building. And so when their preacher, Nellie Phipps, advises prayer, Jane prays for adventure: for 100 adventures to be exact. To Jane's surprise, adventures begin to come her wayevents that will change her, her family and her neighbors.
Some of Jane's adventures are as simple as an evening at a beachside fair, or listening to poetry in the shade while sipping lemonade. But there are also other, more dramatic events: a rescue at sea, secrets of all kinds, a disappearance, an elopement, and the surprising consequences that arise from dropping Bibles from a hot air balloon.
Jane embraces and learns from her adventures, and survives even the hardest ones. At the end of the summer she is still looking forward, eager to embrace her life.
In lyrical, lilting language, Horvath reels out a captivating tale of one girl's unforgettable summer. So don't let the days of warmth and sunshine slip away without grabbing My One Hundred Adventures and whiling away one last, magical afternoon.
Deborah Hopkinson's latest book for young readers is Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, published this month by Schwartz & Wade.