Goblin Secrets/William Alexander: Reflections

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I am not by nature a reader of fantasy or steampunk.  Perhaps it's because my childhood was spent studying picture books with titles such as We Help Daddy and Are You My Mother? that I grew up all Seriousness and Responsibility, less than funny, and (oh, the curse) unimaginatively thoughtful.  What can I do to help my daddy, and are you, in fact, my mother?  Such were the profound mental exhilarations of my childhood.

But I digress (and exaggerate).

Yesterday I placed my many inadequacies aside and brought home William Alexander's Goblin Secrets, winner of this year's National Book Awards. I knew absolutely nothing about the story except for what the great Gary D. Schmidt said about it during and just after the awards ceremony.  My thinking was this:  If Gary D. Schmidt loves this book, Beth Kephart better give it a whirl.

Beth Kephart's happy that she did.  Lacking the vocabulary to offer a precise critique, she'll just say this:  the world Alexander creates—of creaking gears and angry pigeons, traveling caravans and glass clocks, brave boys and forgiving goblins—is engrossing, palpable, nearly Venetian as it limns its masquerade.  The characters are heart-string-tuggers.  There's a river here that doesn't just flow but talks.  There are coming floods.  There are anticipated disasters.  These are kids who take it upon themselves to rescue sinking cities.

Which is all so absolutely apropos in the wake of the storms, rivers, seas that threaten to undo us.


Susan Taylor Brown said...

Well if Beth Kephart and Gary Schmidt think this book is wonderful, perhaps Susan Taylor Brown ought to give it a whirl as well. Though fantasy and steampunk usually put me to sleep, I will have to give this one a try.

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