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Binny for Short

(Binny #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  527 ratings  ·  124 reviews
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 Max away—he is just too big for their cramped new life. Binny knows she can’t get her dad back, but she never stops missing Max, or trying to find him. Then, when she’s eleven, ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published February 1st 2013 by Hodder Children's Books
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Average rating 4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  527 ratings  ·  124 reviews

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Feb 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
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 and
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-fiction
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
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jacob Proffitt
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Melissa McShane
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: protag-female
I should have written this up when I read it, but I didn't. I love Hilary McKay's books, so this was just more of the same--great characters, funny stories, a happy ending that isn't perfect. Even so, I think I like Binny in Secret better. (view spoiler) ...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. ...more
Daisy May 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
Robin Stevens
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I grew up on Hilary's Exiles series, and it's wonderful to come back to her writing and find her just as good as ever. The family dynamics in her books are so well-observed and hilarious, and this first book about Binny and her family is just wonderful. (8+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will ask you to remove that use immediately. Thank you!*
May 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
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
Mar 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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
Jannah Cloud Child
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
That was deliciously fun and filled with weird and wonderful people. A perfect middle grade slice of life book by one of my favourite authors.

Belinda "Binny for Short" misses her dog Max. When her father dies and her family cant afford to keep Max, he's sent to her granny. Unfortunately he's too much for granny and her sister Aunty Violet decides he needs to be rehomed. Horrible Aunty Violet. Binny hates Violet, and misses Max terribly. Clem, her older sister has her flute lessons, James her you
Debbie Gascoyne
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, 2013
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
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-ya
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
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
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
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Not quite as good as the Casson family books, but really lovely in a different sort of way. Perhaps a little weightier in tone.
Hilary McKay will forever be a favorite for me just because of the way she bumps words up next to each other.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Binny is strong willed and daring. She is opinionated and a bit stubborn. She is sure when everyone else believes she is wrong. That sometimes makes life difficult in the best of times, even more challenging.

Benny's story gives readers a lot to think about - what happens when families meet challenges, how can you be a friend, how do you remain true to yourself and show care and respect for others?

I wasn't sure what I thought at first, but now I'm very glad there are at least 2 more books that I
Barb Middleton
Nov 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: realistic
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
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
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
Gabrielle Schwabauer
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Re-reading this book for the third time, all I really wanted was to step through the pages and live in a little seaside town, to stand by the ocean as the wind whips up droplets of water and to ride out on a seal boat and to go biking up the craggy coast and to roast marshmallows over a backyard fire surrounded by overgrown green and to scrub down the floorboards of an ancient house and then sleep in the room I'd been scrubbing. The details are just so vivid. McKay's voice, as always, is flawles ...more
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'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
Aug 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book was horrible. Honestly only the last 3 pages are good. The only reason why I finished reading this book is because of all the good reviews and I thought it would have gotten better but it didn't and I wanted to return this to the library. This book just didn't have a good plot and it was so boring to read. I mostly skimmed the last 50 pages because I just wanted it to be over. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK AT ALL. ...more
We Are All Mad Here
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mg, mg-favorites
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. ...more
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hilary McKay knocks it out of the park again. Great characters (quirky, as always), some foreshadowing, and a satisfying ending.
Tina Hoggatt
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I returned to read this first book in McKay's series after falling in love with the title character in Binny Bewitched (#3). I was not disappointed. All of the warmth of the characters, the unruly and recognizable family interactions, the charm of the seaside house that rescues the family from the aftermath of the father's death and subsequent penury, the terrific scene setting, and most of all the inner life of Binny that I had admired in Binny Bewitched are here in abundance. It's a pleasure t ...more
Life changes irrevocably for Binny when her father dies when she is eight. The family is saddled with huge bills and must downsize in the midst of mourning the loss of the man who kept everything together and told amazing stories. To make matters even worse, Binny is forced to give up her beloved dog, Max, to her grandmother, and then when Max proves too much to handle, Aunt Violet intervenes and finds Max a new home. Binny has never forgiven the woman for this, and she has never forgotten Max o ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every single middle grade child ever
Shelves: middle-grade
I picked this one at random off the library shelf and now I feel I was answering a siren call because I LOVED IT! McKay's Casson Family books charmed me years ago and I found myself falling in love with her style all over again. Seriously, I even went to her website (which internet-adverse me never does) and now I want to move to England and be her best friend.

But about the book...
Binny has the perfect balance of charm that makes her appealing to kids and causes adults to shake their heads ruefu
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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

Other books in the series

Binny (3 books)
  • Binny in Secret (Binny, #2)
  • Binny Bewitched (Binny, #3)

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