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Binny for Short (Binny #1)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  253 ratings  ·  79 reviews
A tender, sweet, and hilarious novel about growing up with a loving family and a perfectly rambunctious dog, from an author who “has set the standard of brilliance” (Horn Book).When she was eight, Binny’s life was perfect: She had her father’s wonderful stories and Max, the best dog ever. But after her father’s sudden death, money is tight, and Aunty Violet decides to give ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published February 1st 2013)
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Hallie
Maybe 4.5, but only because my expectations for new Hilary McKay books are *ridiculously* high by now.

So far behind on writing up books read that I won't say much about this, but will note that it's a family book, like The Exiles & Casson Family series, and as usual, reading as a parent will cause you some anxiety, right along with your love of the kids. (And parent(s).) McKay protags manage to get themselves into some physical danger in a perfectly-reasonable-to-them manner, that delights
...more
Stephanie
I read this book with total pleasure - mingled with total envy. Oh, at every page, I wished so hard that I had written it!

I love McKay's characters and their families. I love the way she tells stories. And I think this is her very strongest book yet.

Binny is stubborn, blinkered, fiery, and WONDERFUL. Her younger brother James made me laugh out loud again and again. Her oldest sister Clem was fabulous without ever being unrealistically perfect. Their seaside town was so vivid, I could imagine I w
...more
Jacob Proffitt
I've been on something of a Hilary McKay binge lately, I suppose, but I couldn't resist the call of this book this evening. As is usual for McKay's novels, I didn't stop until I had finished some hours later.

Like the Casson books, this one centers on the life of an off-kilter family struggling to find their way through difficulties largely of their own making. Unlike the Cassons, I wasn't nearly as charmed by the antics of some of the family and friends. I didn't appreciate James (the youngest f
...more
Emily
6/7/15
Reread in anticipation of the sequel, which is currently winging its way to me from the UK. Or more, precisely, gently paddling towards me (sea mail). Two years is really too short a time between readings, but yet I'd forgotten how hard-edged (by McKay's standards anyway, not the general public's) this story sometimes is. Binny and her frenemy, Gareth, sometimes behave badly because they're both, for different reasons, angry and sad. It's not always comfortable reading. I wasn't sure if th
...more
Beth
Mostly, Binny for Short is a lovable mess, with amazing writing and terrible parenting. And then the mess sorts itself out very neatly. It's a great reading experience, but I'm left with niggling concerns.

First, the lack of discipline while James was being James and Binny was being Binny is anxiety-inducing. It's meant to be funny - especially the way certain recurring circumstances are used as running jokes - but it left me feeling kind of sour, in a will-no-one-tell-these-kids-to-STOP way. (I
...more
Emily
Man, I love Hilary McKay. Her books make me giggle. They make my husband giggle. It's her unusual, frisky way of putting things that always gets me. The youngest child in the family, James, is described as "portable", and the other family members take advantage of the fact when he's being a pest. Here's a sentence that I couldn't stop laughing about, when 11-year old Binny has had just about enough of James.
Binny picked up James, turned him upside down, and lowered him gently into the trash ca
...more
LH Johnson
It's hard to write about family, I think sometimes. It's a thing that a lot of people do for families, in their odd and pained and viciously real shapes, are part of all our lives and they are something which remain intensely personal. You have secret words, shared histories, internal jokes that nobody, despite however hard they try, may ever fully understand. And you can't ever understand theirs, even if you understand the full shade of their humour, cut from their life, you may never fully see ...more
Debbie
Absolutely delightful! I don't know why I don't give it 5 stars - it would be 4 1/2 if we could do that - but perhaps it's not _quite_ as good as one or two in the Casson family series. But few books make me laugh out loud, and this one did (James and the seagull? priceless. James, generally?? Absolutely priceless). Perhaps everything was just a little too easily wrapped up at the end, but, you know, any real criticism would be just niggling. No other author I have read demonstrates quite such a ...more
The Library Lady
I am giving this a 5 because I think The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, which has been cooed over by so many, is the most overrated attempt at an "old fashioned family story" I have ever read. This book,on the other hand, is a delightful read with a family that feels real, unlike Birdsall's phoney baloney characters.
Katie
THIS WAS GREAT. I love how McKay writes families in general and siblings in particular. (Just had the sudden wish she'd write from the perspective of the older sister sometime. Maybe it's because I'm an oldest sister myself, but those are the ones I fall for.) (Well, The Exiles had that, I suppose, but they were all so close in age that the effect was different.)

So yeah. This was a solid four stars until the end, when everything was tied together in such a great, not heavy handed way. And I was
...more
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

It's a new Hilary McKay novel!!! That is really as long as this review needs to be right? It should be. But alas, some of you may not know about the wonderful Hilary McKay so I'll tell you a bit more. Binny for Short is wonderful, a terrific read for summer, or anytime you need a little summer in your life.

Anyone who has read McKay before will feel comfortable within the pages of this book. It is so nice to start a story, sit back, and kn
...more
Ms. Yingling
Binny had a wonderful life with her parents, brother and sister, but when her father dies, the family bookstore is found to be bankrupt, they move out of their large house, and have to give away Binny's dog, Max. Aunt Violet is behind Max's disappearance, and even though she meant well, Binny hates her. When Aunt Violet dies soon after Binny tells her she wishes she would, and leaves her seaside cottage to the struggling family, Binny feels a bit bad. Not sure whether the rundown house is the ri ...more
Tasha
Binny’s life had been perfect but now she lost two of the most important things she ever had. First, her father died, taking his stories along with him. Then, because money became an issue, Binny’s dog had to be given away. Her dog was taken by her mean Aunty Violet, who never told anyone where Max had been sent. So when Binny found herself alone in a car with her Aunt, she told her exactly what she thought. Aunty Violet died soon after that conversation and left Binny and her family her old cot ...more
Barb Middleton
Do you like the characters with mouthy, angry attitudes one minute who then flip from crazy to nice? I call it the Dr Jekyll teenage years. Meet Binny. She's angry, imaginative, vulnerable, sassy, hot-tempered, daring, and funny. Not as funny as her younger brother, James, who likes to charm old ladies, wants to be a farmer, wears a hot pink and green wetsuit around town stripping it off in public when someone questions his gender, and pees on the backyard fence like a flood level marker. Even t ...more
Robin
This book contains what I love most about Hilary McKay's books -- she really captures what children feel -- the anxiety, the fears, the imagination, the joy, the noticing of the little details, the irrationality of it all -- and expresses it so directly and with such understanding. Binny (short for Belinda) is no exception -- she's another charming and oh so very real character. Her family, as usual with McKay, is a bit offbeat, and after her father dies really struggle to survive. Binny's awful ...more
John
Another hilariously quirky but solidly well knit family from McKay--this one consisting of middle child Binny, her ethereal looking but calm and practical teenaged sister Clem, her force of nature little brother James and their widowed mother. Thanks largely to Binny's outstanding ability to hold a certain grudge for years she and her family inherit a small seaside cottage from an equally cantankerous relative, and Binny goes on to become inseparable enemies with Gareth, the surly lad next door. ...more
Ramarie
I just love Hilary McKay. She has this great ability to convey family dynamics in description and dialogue, and it's not a neat, perfect family dynamic...it's quirky and funny and heartwarming. I enjoyed headstrong Binny, who is "haunted" by her Aunty Violet and has adventures with her frenemy, Gareth. Brother James, who's like a 6-year old mad scientist, is hilarious! The story comes full circle in a very satisfying way as Binny realizes that stories, like the ones her dad made up for her, can ...more
Diane
Binny's life is in a state of upheaval. First, she loses her father. Then, she is forced to give her dog, Max, her best friend in the whole world to her grandmother as the family struggles to make ends meet. Then, Aunty Violet decides that Max needs to go elsewhere and gives him away without telling Binny. In a confrontation with Aunty Violet, Binny says "I hate you ... I've hated you for years ... I'll hate you forever!" That's the last time Binny sees Aunty Violet. "Binny began a time of ice-c ...more
Emily
I can't believe it took me this long to read Binny for Short. I got it on the drop date, started it, set it down to savor, and waited over a year. The thing that really sparked my reading it is that the sequel's coming out this summer. Binny isn't Hilary McKay's strongest novel, but that's like saying that North America isn't God's strongest continent. It's amazing. McKay really rocks her minimalist approach to language here which is grand, but I do love it when she's effusive. The plot is that ...more
Melissa
Cute story, likeable yet realistic characters, the right amount of humor versus gravity. I loved that Binny told her Aunty Violet, "I hope you're next.". At a funeral. Yes, it did wrap up very nicely, but I personally thought that was very, well, nice.
Margaux
Binny and her family are in dire straights when her father passes away (she is only 8 at the time). However, at the passing of her grandmother, when she tells her great-aunt that she hopes she dies, her great-aunt does die. Binny then finds that her aunt has given the family her "creepy house by the sea" and attached a special note to her will: She sends Binny "her regards."

Binny is creeped out. Obviously. The writing style of this book is a little advanced to be a first-person narrative told f
...more
Laurie
I heart Hilary McKay.
Kathy
In their first summer in horrible Aunty Violet's old house by the sea, Binny continues to miss the dog Aunty Violet gave away, worries the woman is haunting her, has a first painful crush, crews on a tourist boat, and carries on a most satisfying feud with her neighbor and best enemy, Gareth, until they are nearly drowned together. Binny and Gareth are both unhappy children: Binny whose unrelieved sadness at the loss of her dog stands in for the larger loss of her father who died not long before ...more
Susan P
I love Hilary McKay! She's one of those authors who write snort-out-loud funny books that also have sad parts to them. In this book, Binny (Belinda) and her family relocate to a tiny ramshackle cottage at the beach after the death of Binny's father. Shortly before her father died, he bought Binny a puppy for her 8th birthday. After his death when they had to sell their house and move into an apartment, there wasn't room for the rambunctious Max. He was sent to live with Granny in the country, bu ...more
Miriam
Oh, I do love Hilary McKay. Her characters aren't always easy to love, but their emotional turmoil is so vividly drawn and their peculiarities are so individual that I feel I know them intimately. Here is James, who pilfers a packet of lettuce seeds and then experiments by watering the plants with a variety of disgusting solutions to see whether he has made their leaves poisonous. Here's Binny who's convinced she's being haunted by her Aunty Violet because she was unpardonably rude to her during ...more
Sally Flint
Hilary McKay Binny for Short
This was really good for teenagers, I genuinely enjoyed it. This it is a 2014 Carnegie Longlist book.. It is about an eleven year old girl called Binny whose dad has died. They are strapped for cash and she has an awful auntie whom she yells at and wishes she was dead. They end up being left a house belonging to the auntie and move to it. Binny makes friends/enemies with her neighbour a boy the same age, Gareth, who is having issues with his dad and step mum. She has
...more
Stephen King
Didn't think i'd fancy this, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. The small coastal resort was well portrayed, the characters (with one exception) were both believable and likeable, and there was just enough tension built be the two concurrent stories. Binny is a good character, with the mixture of dreaminess, practicability and craziness of most 11 year olds. My only two gripes were: mum was a bit one dimensional - she could have done with a love interest - and James was CERTAINLY not your averag ...more
Evan
Belinda Cornwallis, or Binny for Short, is eleven years old and not entirely happy with the way things are turning out in her life. For starters, her father has died and there's no money, so the family is flat broke. Then there's the issue of her dog Max. Well, the absence of her dog Max. Mean old Aunty Violet gave Max away and then up and died without telling Binny who she gave him to.
Now the entire family has moved to the seaside into a cramped, tiny house and Binny's only friend is actually
...more
Karin Carter
It's been a long time since I read one of Hilary McKay's books, but as this is a potential Carnegie short list title, I thought I'd give it a go. It was a breath of fresh air and much better than I had expected. I loved the setting and the way the story unfolds between the past and the present through alternating chapters. It has been on my library shelves for a while and not been picked up. I think this may be something to do with the cover, it did not make me want to pick it up initially. A wo ...more
Jennifer Bell
A charming children's story that is masterfully told. Binny is a likeable yet flawed character, as is her friend/ enemy Gareth. Binny's infectious optimism is contrasted by Gareth's glum pessimism, resulting in a perfect balance of the two. The climax of the story comes in chunks throughout the book, as the narration skips around in time. This cleverly draws the tension out over the tamer earlier points of the story. All the characters, and the setting, were vivid. I look forward to reading the ...more
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Hilary McKay was born in Boston, Lincolnshire and is the eldest of four girls. From a very early age she read voraciously and grew up in a household of readers. Hilary says of herself as a child "I anaesthetised myself against the big bad world with large doses of literature. The local library was as familiar to me as my own home."

After reading Botany and Zoology at St. Andrew's University Hilary
...more
More about Hilary McKay...

Other Books in the Series

Binny (2 books)
  • Binny in Secret
Saffy's Angel (Casson Family, #1) Indigo's Star (Casson Family, #2) Permanent Rose (Casson Family, #3) Caddy Ever After (Casson Family, #4) Forever Rose (Casson Family, #5)

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