Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Book Review Club - The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister

The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister
By Charlotte Agell
middle grade
(151 pp with some b/w illustration)

I won the advance arc for this book on Sarah Laurence's website and eagerly awaited its arrival. My youngest daughter is a serious Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody, Flat Stanley, Geronimo Stilton, you-name-the-series-she'll-read-it kind of kid. I wondered if India would fit the bill.

She more than lived up to my expectations. One of my pet peeves with series books these days is the flatness to the characters. This is not to say they don't have their own quirks, but rather, that they all seem to come from the same amorphous, fictitious middle America neighborhood. It's a great marketing ploy, but gets a little boring after a while, at least for me.

Which is what drew me into this book immediately. India is a adopted from China. Her parents are divorced. Her dad is gay and in a relationship with another man. Her mom is a self-sufficient artist (that really sealed the deal). India lives in a real place, Wolfgang, Maine. It is not middle America. It is a little town with a forest where you can get lost! There is so much texture to this story and its characters. The adventures India has are regular kid adventures. She has a boy who is her friend but not her boyfriend, Colby. He has a crush on a girl India cannot stand. India and Colby sleep out in a field to watch for UFOs. India spends time with her elderly neighbor next door. And all around these adventures is the enticing flavors of real setting, modern day family, and real life.

Go India!

Add to that the gentle illustrations with which Agell enlivens the pages, and it's a winning combination. I cannot wait to read more.

For more adventurous tales, hop over to our fearless leader, Barrie Summy's blog!

On a tangentially related note, I got to see the inside illustrations for my upcoming picture book, ROPE 'EM, that comes out in March 2011 with Kane Miller. Gorgeous (author swoons).

I'm in love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ellen Booraem said...

great review, Stacy! And a telling critique of series lit these days (or any time in the past 40 years, really). Thanks!

Sarah Laurence said...

Fabulous review! I second everything you “said” so eloquently. Charlotte Agell is working on the next book in the series.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I wondered why I recognized this book! :) And two recommendations are better than one.

Keri Mikulski said...

Thanks for the review and recommendation!! I'm definitely passing this one along to my niece.

Stacy Nyikos said...

Thanks, everyone. It really is worth reading because it has so much texture. What a breath of fresh air!

Barrie said...

I have this book on my TBR list. :) And I'm moving it up! And how exciting that you got to see your illustrations!!!

Stacy said...

Everything I hear about this book is so positive, and India does sound like a fabulous heroine.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

This sounds like one to check out! I love that it's NOT a stereotypical setting.