Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My One Hundred Adventures

Horvath, Polly. 2008. MY ONE HUNDRED ADVENTURES. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375845826 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

Jane and her family live in a ramshackle beach house in a small town on the east coast. Jane, twelve, has three much younger siblings. Her mother is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who lives off the land, has no obvious means of financial support, and no husband. Jane is her mainstay. Jane has been told in church that she should pray all of the time about anything at all, so she prays to have one hundred adventures. As her summer unfurls, she wonders: “Who would think that the universe would pay any attention to me?” As her adventures begin Jane’s summer flies by and our enjoyment is insured.

Horvath has once again created a memorable character in Jane who is trying to figure out herself and her place in the world. Jane finds that her adventures result in her testing her ideas about people, family, and her beliefs. Horvath’s language is lyrical, not only in her descriptions of the beach, but to its community members as well. In fact, the setting – the beach house and its surrounds– feature largely in the story almost as important as the characters themselves. Readers will revel in the company of Jane’s family, the beach, and the close-knit community.

Discuss whether or not young readers see their lives as a series of possible adventures. Invite them to catalog their adventures as Possible, Unlikely, or Only in a Fantasy Book. Can any of these adventures be used as story starters for their own writing?

Other books written by Polly Horvath:
EVERYTHING ON A WAFFLE, Newbery Honor Award. ISBN 9780374322366
THE CANNING SEASON, National Book Award. ISBN 9780374399566

By Cay Geisler

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