I’m squeezing in a few more review choices this month before my role as a CYBILS round 2 judge points me in a different direction.
There have been quite a few middle grade books that end up as movies, but this title went the other way. It was first a screenplay for a BBC television movie released in 2011. One of the two screenwriters, David Logan, took what he had co-created and turned it into a novel. This book was first released in England, but this year made it to the U.S. with a new cover.
If you like Rebecca Stead’s WHEN YOU REACH ME, you’ll get right into this one full of characters you aren’t sure how they all connect. As in Stead’s book, the puzzle pieces fit together nicely by The End. Be prepared for a shocking start as ten-year-old Goose loses both parents in a car accident. From there Goose connects with various people who also have experienced loss and eventually bring meaning to the terrible accident. While sad events happen throughout, the ending is magical, heartwarming, and happily surprising.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2011 (UK) 2015 (US release) PAGE COUNT: 296
FULL PLOT : When Goose’s parents are killed in a car crash on Christmas Eve, his life changes utterly. Living with his increasingly senile Nan, his dog Mutt is the only thing keeping him sane. His only other friend is Frank, a former friend of his father. Frank’s own life is falling apart and he has recruited Goose to help him carry out petty theft around the city. A year to the day since the accident that changed his life, Goose meets Anthony, a strange man who has forgotten who he is, but seems to know more about others than they know about themselves. When Mutt goes missing, Goose has no choice but to rely on Anthony to help find him. In an adventure that draws in Frank, who’s lost his family, an old lady who’s lost a precious bangle, an elderly doctor who’s lost his wife and mother who’s lost her daughter, Goose follows Anthony across Manchester. But at the centre of the mystery is Anthony himself: who is he, how does he know so much and can he help Goose and the others find what they’re searching for?
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: Lost Christmas by David Logan
- Clever story telling. I didn’t have a clue what the connection between the characters would reveal, but of course it all made sense at the end.
- The characters are deep and multi-faceted dealing with real world problems like Alzheimers and alcoholism.
- Manchester, UK is where most of the action takes place so it was enjoyable to learn about a place I’d never visited.
- No info dumping here in the initial chapters. The plot breadcrumbs are scattered throughout the story, allowing readers to make their own guesses as to the outcome.
- Parallels to our own beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. They take different routes but by the end you are smiling at the result.
FAVORITE LINES: And, with that, Mom, Dad, and Nan stepped aside, revealing a small brown and white mongrel deeply engrossed in a satisfying scratch behind his ear. With an open mouth Goose looked down at the dog. The dog stopped what he was doing and looked up at Goose. their eyes met. And it was love at first sight.
AUTHOR QUOTE: “It might seem obvious but I’ve come across too many aspiring writers who don’t read for pleasure. Frankly I don’t get it. Isn’t that like being an aspiring footballer who’s never watched a match or an aspiring chef who doesn’t like food? If you want to write, read. Use libraries. They’re an amazing and endangered resource. If you want to write children’s fiction then educate yourself about what’s out there.”
Make a comment here if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.