The Newbery Honor book Savvy by Ingrid Law follows similar patterns to the middle grade novel The Lightning Thief, which I read at about the same time (thoughts here). A child (Mibs) has a birthday (this time her thirteenth) and discovers her special powers, testing them by going on a journey with other kids. Savvy felt creative in that Law creates a new world and a special family that has its secrets, since each of the Beaumonts know that their thirteenth birthday means they will discover their savvy, which can be anything from controlling the wind to catching radio waves out of the air. I liked the magic in the book. I also liked the obvious conflict with the modern world and the challenge the premise creates.
Yet, Savvy is meant to be read by a child, and as an adult, I struggled to suspend disbelief as they went on their journey. I was irritated rather than impressed by the “quest” and found myself rolling my eyes at how things were resolved, since parental involvement, police situations, and hospitals couldn’t happen as it was written. (This annoyance, though, makes no sense since the entire premise is a fantastic magical one.) In fact, I never really felt I understood Mibs. Despite the fact that it was told in her voice, I never felt a part of her world, and her “coming of age” journey felt superficial to a fault to me. But, as I mentioned, Savvy is primarily a children’s book.
Although it is rather superficial, I think the message is something that even adults can relate to: we each can discover savvys (or personal strengths) in ourselves. I think the savvy I have is my organization. I’m pretty good at keeping things together even when there is a lot going on.
However, if I were to get a magical savvy, I think mine should be the ability to stop and start time at will. Wouldn’t that be nice? Think of how many books I could read in those in between moments and still get other things done in real time!
What is your savvy? What magical savvy would you love?
I have been pondering the two children’s novels I read recently (The Lightning Thief and Savvy), trying to think of how to expand the thoughts I have, but I find I don’t have much to say. Each only took about two hours to read, so I obviously didn’t spend much time thinking about them at the time. That said, they were a fun diversion, and it makes me excited to give more recent children’s literature a try.