We love our library. I may have mentioned that before, but it is a truth that bears repeating. We have a wonderful library and the kids and I love to just browse its shelves. During a recent day off school, we made just such a trip to our library and I saw this one, My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson, sitting on the shelf just calling out to me. The cover art is beautiful and no matter how much someone tells me not to judge a book by its cover, sometimes I can't help it. This book features Gracie Lockwood, young girl living in plain, old Cliffden, Maine. You know, just the regular world with school and homework, Dairy Queen and Circle K, dragons and sasquatches. Oh, wait. That last part didn't sound right to you? Well, that is what caught my attention, too.
Gracie lives in a world that sounds exactly like us, shocking in its unremarkableness, except for the supernatural creatures that are viewed the same way we view squirrels and butterflies. Included in this strange world are dark clouds that arrive to take someone away when it is their time to die. Gracie has noticed a cloud making its way down their street and it has her concerned. Her family is sure that the cloud is coming for Gracie's sickly younger brother Sam, so in an attempt to protect him, the Lockwoods leave town. They know the cloud can follow them, but they have a plan for that. They are determined to go all the way to the edge of the world so that they can cross over into The Extraordinary World. Though most people have never heard of it, and those who have believe it is a myth, Gracie's father believes it is another dimension which they can reach after a very perilous journey across their own world. They will risk sasquatches, yetis (larger versions of sasquatches), and abominable snomen (larger versions of yetis); witches, ghosts and ghost ships, and giants. It's not your average family road trip novel, but it sure does have imagination.
I loved this book when it began. There was just something so funny about the way the ordinary was mentioned right along with the extraordinary, like when Gracie casually recalls a dragon burning down a TJ Maxx recently. No big deal. Happens all the time. As the story progressed, I did begin to get impatient and lose interest a bit and there were even times I wasn't sure I wanted to finish it, but I pressed on and by the time I reached the last few chapters, I was glad I had kept at it. Your middle grade reader would love it.
My favorite quote comes from Gracie's mother:
"Books are the way to stretch out people's souls, and I won't have children with small souls."