Saturday, December 16, 2017

"The Incredible Magic of Being"

Kathryn Erskine is the acclaimed author of many distinguished novels for young readers, including Mockingbird, winner of the National Book Award; The Absolute Value of Mike, an Amazon Best Book and ALA Notable Book; and Quaking, an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new book, The Incredible Magic of Being, and reported the following:
From page 69:


Pookie used to think it was cool that I was a uni-sensor, like knowing her bus broke down and making Mom pick her up even though Mom kept staring at me and asking me how I knew. Or checking out three books at the library which weren’t even on comets (they were on costumes through the ages) even though Mom looked at them funny, and I did, too, but it turns out Pookie needed them for a report that was due the next day. Or feeling that Pookie was having a really bad day and fixing two glasses of chocolate milk, pulling out her Matt Damon DVDs, and dragging the stuffed kiddie sofa in front of the TV and when she got home she said I was the best brother in the whole universe.

After that she left our universe, but I’m still uni-sensing her and everyone else.
Appropriately, page 69 has the beginning of one of astronomy-loving Julian’s frequent FARTs (Facts And Random Thoughts). These asides that share facts or thoughts, often about science, are either explanations or extensions of the story. It’s Julian’s idiosyncrasy, and they can be funny or poignant, but I also hope they serve as an example to readers that it’s OK to daydream and make connections, especially between science and daily life, because thinking and making analogies is useful and fascinating.

In this FART, Julian references his ability to sense when something is happening to someone he loves or to seemingly predict the future. I think we’ve all had experiences like this—and if you’re open to the possibility I think it happens even more. It also happens in reverse; for example, you really hope that, of all your neighbors, you won’t run into a particular one at the grocery store but, of course, that’s the exact person you bump into. This “uni-sensing,” or sensing the universe, is a critical element of the story. Julian tries to get the crotchety widower next door to connect with his recently deceased wife, whom Julian is sure must be up in the stars watching, but the connection between Julian and his neighbor is even more special. In this FART, he also reveals the close relationship he always had with his sister, Pookie, and their current distance. And that’s another of Julian’s goals in the book—to reconnect with his sister and bring his family together, which does happen in the end, but in a way that’s … incredibly magical.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Erskine's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Kathryn Erskine & Fletcher.

--Marshal Zeringue