Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Map of Me

Yesterday, there was a news story about a five-year-old who, upon getting off the school bus and finding her mom missing, got in the car to go look for her. The girl ended up backing onto a neighbor's lawn, returning to her house, and calling 911. Apparently, even though the girl at first lied to police, her story ended happily.

Coincidentally, I just finished a book about a girl whose mom goes missing and who goes to look for her. Tami Lewis Brown's middle grade novel The Map of Me, arrived in the mail last week, and—because I'd loved Tami's picture book, Soar, Elinor— I couldn't wait to read it.

I just finished the novel and found it delightful. I like stories told in the first person, and The Map of Me is narrated by sixth-grader Margie Tempest. Margie has problems: her nine-year-old (and much smarter) sister Peep is in the same grade—and the same class. When Miss Primrose, having read the class The Hobbit, assigns her students to draw a map of themselves, Peep receives and A and Margie, who never finished the assignment, receives an F. Margie knows she will never measure up to her little sister.

Then their mother, an avid collector of all things having to do with chickens, vanishes. She leaves a note on the refrigerator: "I HAVE TO GO." Margie thinks she knows where Mama went—to the International Poultry Hall of Fame in a town not far away. When Margie and Peep go to their father's business, he's busy with a customer and doesn't have time for them. Margie "borrows" his car and her odyssey along the backroads of Kentucky begins.

Margie disregards Peep's protests and, when Peep offers her a map, Margie flings it out the window. After driving for miles, with the gas tank almost empty and rain pouring down, Margie realizes she's headed in the wrong direction and turns around. But that's all I'm going to tell you about the plot—or whether or not Margie's story ends happily.

The book is not only about Margie trying to find Mama, but about Margie finding herself. The Map of Me is a good book for sixth grade girls—they're at the age when they're questioning themselves and their abilities. And it's a good book for adults, too, who might need a reminder of how children sometimes misinterpret what's happening. The Map of Me would be a good choice for a mother-daughter book club, or for a mother and daughter to read together.

On her website, Tami Lewis Brown has a neat activity kit for The Map of Me


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