Hardcover, 32 pages
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (2003-08-25)
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One Potato Review
The beginning here promises something a little bit different: a boy growing up on an island in Lake Superior puts salt in his good-luck pocket every morning (for throwing on a live rabbit’s tail) and “green beach glass” (to remind him of his recently deceased mother) in his “keep-away-bad-luck pocket.” Like another of this author’s books - the very different Snowflake Bentley - this is a story completely rooted in historical and geographical detail. When Martin rattles off a line like “Hummingbirds ate from jewelweed flowers” it’s equally a measure of her fascination for the background of a story (here, the boy dreams of building a boat that “could take him out where the quiet was filled with water and sky,” and actually works to make that happen) as her taste for proper names that pop and dart, and also the occasional syntactical cartwheel. All of this makes for surprising reading, no matter the narrative arc. If it’s true that there are only so many stories in the world left to tell, then finally what matters is how real you can make them, and how personal. Deeply, and durably, felt.