Sunday, June 6, 2010

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins (NY: Greenwillow, 2010).

Right off the bat, let me say that I liked this novel so much better than Criss Cross, Perkins's Newbery Medal winning effort. It succeeds where Criss Cross failed, namely in conveying the serendipitous nature of self-discovery, largely through the power of adventure story. The main character, a likable teenager named Ry, has incredibly bad luck from page one, when he steps off a train trying to find cell reception and ends up stranded in the middle of Montana. He has just read a letter from the summer camp he's supposed to be attending telling him NOT to come--the program is cancelled. Meanwhile, there's bad luck on other fronts as well--his parents, on a Caribbean sailing adventure, encounter mechanical problems and lose their cell phones, so they're out of contact. The grandfather who is supposed to be minding the house and dogs, has a fall and ends up with a concussion, so he's off the radar, too. Luckily Ry literally runs into Del, a stubborn handyman who doesn't mind an adventure and offers to drive Ry back across the country to find out why his grandfather isn't answering the phone. Del then accompanies Ry on a trip to the Caribbean as well to suss out Ry's parents.

All in all, this is one marvelous adventure; the plot-driven nature of the story will keep all readers turning the pages. Highly recommended for grades 6 & up.

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