Thursday, April 7, 2011

I could tell you what's in the bag, but you should probably just buy the book.

Jenni Holm's new novel "The Trouble with May Amelia" is officially out making it's way in the world, and I was lucky enough to ride its coattails via my contribution of pen-and-ink chapter headers. Published by Simon and Schuster's Atheneum imprint, it's a wonderful book.

It also has the distinction of being one of the few children's books ever written and illustrated exclusively by descendants of Finnish-Americans, so you know it's full of risiipurru, sisu, and authentic references to fish head soup. Or, in the words of Publisher's Weekly:

Twelve-year-old May Amelia Jackson lives on a farm in Washington State in 1900 with her parents, Finnish immigrants, and a passel of brothers. Life is hard, but Holm works humor into even the grimmest situations, and Gustavson's chapter-opening spot art adds a cozy, atmospheric touch. A ransacking bull (named Friendly) knocks down the outhouse (with May Amelia inside); suitors romancing Miss McEwing are sent packing in various, inventive ways lest the school lose its beloved teacher. Judicious use of Finnish phrases adds flavor, and details ground the story in an era when boys were still routinely "shanghaied" (involuntarily pressed into service on ships bound for Asia). "Best Brother" Wilbert tells her she's as irritating as a grain of sand in an oyster, and it's mighty fun to watch May Amelia morph into a pearl. Ages 8 -12.

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