A 'kids' book' entertaining enough for adultsI'm a grown-up. That means I generally read grown-up books. Last week, I picked up a children's book and couldn't put it down.
By: Monica Isley, Lake County News Chronicle
I'm a grown-up. That means I generally read grown-up books. Last week, I picked up a children's book and couldn't put it down.
"Children's book" is probably not quite the right category for Seeing Red, by Anne Louise MacDonald. The main character is a 14-year-old boy who rescues a wounded bird, is afraid of horses and hates the fact that he is so very normal—until he discovers that he can dream the future, and that Weird Maura-Lee can read his mind.
While I had fun being a teenager again as I read the very engaging story, I can imagine that real teens would thoroughly identify. MacDonald seems to have a knack for understanding how a young person feels, how they see the world around them, and the things that loom as large issues to them but are often minimized by adults.
MacDonald has evidently paid heed to the admonition given to writers to "write what you know." She has her own Hug a Horse Farm in Nova Scotia—and that just happens to be the name of the horse farm in the book. She teaches people to care for their horses more naturally, and that also is alluded to in the story.
In fact, there are a lot of "lessons" taught and learned—about being different, about facing fears, about what real courage is, about seeing beneath the surface of people and events. But it's all done with such humor and such sparkling dialog. Even while Frankie, the lead character, is wallowing through a pile of teenage angst, there's humor; I couldn't help but be delighted with how easily MacDonald made me identify with it.
She also practices that very tantalizing system of keeping the reader engaged: each chapter ends with a bit of a cliff-hanger. So much for "I'll read one more chapter and then put it down." The end of each chapter inevitably pulled me into the succeeding one because I just had to know what was coming next.
Kids who skateboard or love horses, kids who struggle with peer image, kids who just plain love a good story, will enjoy this book, I guarantee. And then, since kids today also love checking things out on the Internet, they can find out more about the real Hug a Horse farm, about the author, and about her horses, by visiting www.hugahorsefarm.com.
Seeing Red is published by Kids Can Press—in Toronto, Ont., Canada, and in Tonawanda, NY.