Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Jerry Spinelli
For ages 9 to 12
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2008   ISBN: 978-0316166478

David is furious when his father insists that he has to go to the Easter egg hunt with his grandmother. At the moment David is very angry with life in general, and his grandmother in particular. Since the death of his mother in an accident, David has had to move from his home in Minnesota and he now lives with his grandmother and his father in his grandmother's house. His father is rarely at home and David is lonely and missing his mother. He does not like the fact that his grandmother is trying to be kind to him, that she is being understanding and sympathetic. It is all too much.

The egg hunt is a disaster as far as David is concerned. The only egg he finds is taken away from him by a "big kid." So he wanders off into the woods and there he finds the body of a dead girl. Strangely enough he is not upset by his find. She looks peaceful lying among the leaves, and he talks to her, telling her his name and showing her his "memento," a precious keepsake of his mother's.

David is therefore completely shocked when he goes to the story time at the library with his grandmother many weeks later and sees the dead girl sitting in the audience. She gives him a business card and, unable curb his curiosity, David goes to the address on the card. He discovers that the girl is called Primrose and that she has a decidedly odd fortune-teller for a mother. Wanting to get away from her mother as much as possible Primrose has created a room for herself in an old van, and she often goes out at night to scavenge through people's trash looking for treasures that she might sell.

Soon enough David is going out at night with Primrose and he meets her friend Refrigerator John. Though there is a big age difference between nine year old David and thirteen year old Primrose, the children spend a great deal of time together. They fight a lot, and yet their mutual pain connects them.

Bit by bit, as the summer unfolds, the children share more and more of their secrets, their fears, and their frustrations. Sometimes their emotions are explosive and sometimes they are painful, but together they edge towards finding a place where they can begin to accept things and move on.

In this exceptional book Jerry Spinelli explores the emotional world of two children who have very different problems and yet who are able to help one another through their difficulties. Sometimes children are the only ones who can understand the pain of their peers. They can understand nuances that adults might miss, and they can understand the rules the adults don't even know exist. Young readers will quickly grow fond of these two children who are constantly bickering and yet who know one another so well. As they read older readers will be amazed at how much they will discover about the inner workings of private relationships.