Sunday, June 18, 2006

Whipped Cream and a Pumpkin On Top

What more can you ask of a book than to let you spend some time with a real girl who triumphs through her own talents and the support of people who believe in her? For that sort of fix, there is no one like Joan Bauer. (Though I admit, with Tree and Mickey she's created some pretty great guys, too.) And as a Midwestern girl, I truly enjoyed Squashed with it's hometown flavor and State Fair spin on competition and the notion of growing wholesome vegetables as a means to personal fulfillment. I'm not a grower of anything myself, but I did admire Ellie's unwavering commitment to Max, and the determined care she lavished on him. I cheered with the arrival of Wes and his talk therapy program (both for Max and for Ellie) and I loved the much maligned mongrel, Spider. Joan Bauer is so full of life - I've gotten to meet her on a couple of occasions and am always struck by her sincerity and joy - and that same quality comes through in her characters. Ellie's description of having fallen in love with a pumpkin because it was the first thing the Fairy Godmother transformed in Cinderella was a wonderful passage in the book and the final moment of her sitting with Wes, her new dog and Max's tiny offspring in the Iowa sunshine -- is indeed "A perfect moment in agriculture" and a perfect way to end the 48 Hour Book Challenge.

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