The Newbery Award and Honor Book Club discussion

Folk Tales > Savvy

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message 1: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) I love Savvy. I loved it just as much as The Underneath. I think that it is important (and hard) for kids to listen to their OWN voice, heck it's hard for me. So what a great story to help them understand how to be stronger. I loved the strange powers. To me it felt a little like Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians only done in a much better and more positive way. Not bad for Ingrid Laws first book.

message 2: by Adelina (new)

Adelina | 37 comments Oh yeah, love the cover, and it is even better when you start reading it and the cover takes on meaning. Not finished yet, so I'll come back for more discussion later.

message 3: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Jorgensen (sunnie) Ingrid Law came to Austin and I got Savvy signed. I told her I thought the cover was cool and she said it was "Awesome!" and that it was better then she imagined.

message 4: by Megan (last edited Jun 10, 2009 09:53AM) (new)

Megan | 86 comments I just finished, guiltily a bit late, but I really did love it. Happily not one of those books where you wish you could keep the cover, but exchange the inside for something else. (Love the fact that Ms. Law herself was impressed with the cover, what an exciting detail, and lucky you, Kristen, on the signed book.)

I see the comparison with Alcatraz here, though I hadn't thought of that while reading, and definitely agree that this is the better of the two. I also liked it rather more than The Graveyard Book, and now must absolutely read the other honor books selected this year.

I didn't find this book in any way alegorical or preachy, but I was impressed that even though this was a fantasy, Law made her characters logical, believable, and oh-so relatable. The Beaumonts weren't somehow better than everyone around them because of their Savvys, or more noble, or more brilliant, or more beautiful. I think this is the best kind of fantasy for children or adults.

Also (*Spoiler if you haven't finished yet*), I was so sure Mibs's poppa was going to die in the end. I figured it's the classic literature cliche. Put a loved one in a life-threatening situation, make the character suffer all sorts of trials and false hope so that when you kill the loved one at the end, they're left with a good life-lesson in the place where they used to have a father or a dog or a grandma. Of course, at the other extreme, you get a dust-jacket cover asking you some sort of silly question after the plot synopsis, like "will the princess save the kingdom from the power-hungry war-lord intent on destroying everything good?" and you know that of course she will, by some miraculous chance, and everything will go back to how it was before the power-hungry war-lord. But Savvy stears clear of both those horrible cliches. You're not left with some meaningless platitude about the importance of losing things you love, but the world isn't suddenly problem free either.

message 5: by Ranae (new)

Ranae | 9 comments I did enjoy this book very much. Glad it was on the list because otherwise I probably wouldn't have ever read it. In the beginnig I wasn't sure I was going to like it, I felt like I was beginning a tall tale, but I fell in love with Lester and Lil and all the other characters. I liked The Graveyard Book better than this one though.

message 6: by Rochelle (new)

Rochelle | 2 comments Funny thing, but I almost enjoyed the discussion about the book more than I did the book because things people said in their discussions made me appreciate the book more than I did initially. Ranae mentioned that she thought it would be a tall tale and suddenly I was thinking about the book in the context of a tall tale, which I hadn't before and I began to appreciate the authors ability to tell a real "whopper" without it feeling like a tall tale, which is not my favorite genre. I appreciated Megan's observation that it didn't fall into cliche territory like it so easily could have. I didn't enjoy the plot as much as I had hoped. I had get on a waiting list for the book at the library (I'm still waiting for the graveyard book), so I expected to really love it, the cover art certainly lent itself to that expectation. With the exception of Kansaka-Nebransas, which I loved, I also had a hard time with the syntax. It seemed to get in the way of the characters instead of lending itself to them, although looking at the book as a "tall tale" kind of story helped me appreciate Ms. Law's use of language a little more. Having said that, I loved the idea of a "savvy" and that any "savvy" whether "magical" or not, needs to be tamed to be really useful, and sometimes our "gifts" can cause us as much grief as our supposed weaknesses and conversely, our "flaws" when tamed or "scumbled" can serve us as well. I also liked the idea that Mibs' "savvy" while spectacular, was one that everyone who has felt the voices of criticism, whether from an outside voice or even one's own, can relate to. We all have to silence the voices that would tear us down. Mibs also had to deal with her own empathetic feelings as she learned things about total strangers and friends and enemies that she would not have otherwise known. What a picture this book creates of the soul wounds everyone carries but we seldom show. I think that is why the syntax bothered me, because the story was so full of real, genuine feeling and empathy that the highty, flighty voice of Mibs was a distraction to what was going on in her heart. Of course the idea of a "savvy" hitting at the same time a kid has to go through puberty is a compelling idea too, and the (to me) awkward voice perhaps lends itself to the awkwardness Mibs is feeling in this definitely awkward and gawky time of life. All in all I quite enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to a class of adolescents. There is so much for kids to glean from this book. A good read indeed.

message 7: by Megan (new)

Megan | 86 comments I agree that Mibs's voice is often distracting. I would start to be amused by her light-hearted language and forget that they're all supposed to be really worried about Mibs's Poppa.

message 8: by Adelina (new)

Adelina | 37 comments Ooo, Rochelle, I love reading your reviews of books! Megan, that's what I had the hardest time with in this book, because Mib's Poppa was always in the forefront of my mind, and it didn't always seem to be there in the book. I also thought the bus driver was very irresponsible in not having them call their parents right away and waiting until the waitress came into the picture for that. But I guess that was part of his character, and the battle in his mind.

message 9: by Ashley (new)

Ashley (affie) | 36 comments I really enjoyed this book. At first, I was a little put off by her strange similies and metaphors, but after the first few, I felt they really added to the story, because that's how Mib felt to me. I have younger siblings in the awkward adolescent stage (at all levels...) and I loved reading this. I thought that Law did a great job catching the awkward stage. Mib is a great character because she is real.
Funny- I didn't connect the term empath with her savvy until Rochelle mentioned it- I feel a little silly now... ;) But I loved her savvy.

Certain aspects of the book felt a little predictable to me, but it says a lot about the book, and Ingrid Law as a writer that even though I had already figured out some of the plot twists, and secrets, they still felt new to me when they were revealed.
I really did love this book.


I agree with the comment above about the ending. I was really glad that her father lived, because I feel that the characters and the book would have lost quite a bit if he had, but that everything wasn't super perfect at the end. He was still sick, and still had some problems from the accident, which is how it would probably be in reality.
I also really felt for her older brother. (Rocket...?) With the electric powers. The ending was obviously hard on him, and I like to think he manages to scumble his savvy soon- poor guy.

message 10: by Bennett (new)

Bennett | 8 comments I was captivated by the cover of the book to begin with. As I started to to read I felt that I had come across a real gem. I loved the concept of the Savvy and the inner conflict it created within each of the different Beaumonts. Unfortunately my enthusiasm and interest in the book slowly waned as the plot moved on. While fantasy is one of my favorite genres, I had a hard time accepting much of the way things developed through the book. Ranae mentioned it having a feel of a tall tale, and I felt it was trying to be a believable fantasy. Sadly for me it fell somewhere in between and lost it's ability to hold me very close. I did however like the heartfelt ending, (not the hospital scene) but the touching moment on the porch in the swing. I can see how many will love the story and the characters, but it just fell a little short for me.

message 11: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Hall | 2 comments Hmmm, I read this book months ago, but I remember that I loved it. And considering that I read tons of kids books and can hardly recall them a day after reading, that's saying a lot about Law's book. Of course, it could just be that I'm getting old...but I like to think that "Savvy" stood out :-)

What was so lovely about "Savvy" was the freshness of the idea. If I read a story with great characters and an interesting conflict, I'm going to like it. But if that story has something unique, like the special savvy powers among this family, I'm going to really like it. And if it's lyrically written, like "Savvy," then I'm going to remember it months later.

message 12: by Megan (last edited Sep 01, 2009 08:27PM) (new)

Megan | 86 comments It's funny, I really loved Savvy when I had just finished it, but in reading the new comments I was thinking back on it, and like it much less in retrospect. Maybe it's a mood I'm having, but as much as I liked Savvy when I was reading it, I don't think I'll ever go back to it.

message 13: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 7 comments It's funny you say that Megan. I wasn't as impressed with Savvy when I read it. I thought it was good but the cover seemed so impressive that I think I set my expectations a little high. But because I've read everyone else's positive comments I was thinking that maybe I should go back and re-read it to give it another try.

message 14: by Megan (new)

Megan | 86 comments That is funny. I still love the cover, though, I guess that won't change.

message 15: by Ranae (new)

Ranae | 9 comments Funny the comments about the cover, because I can't remember what it looked like. I'll have to go back and look at the cover. Ha ha ha.

message 16: by Caren (new)

Caren (carenb) | 13 comments Very strange book. No kid has come back to tell me that they really liked the book.

message 17: by Joy (new)

Joy | 217 comments I normally am all over fantasy books but this one was just "okay" in my opinion. The stormy characters reminded me a lot of some of the characters in the Charlie Bone series. Actually, the whole "savvy" thing is very similar to the "Children of the Red king" in Charlie Bone.

message 18: by Desiree', Teacher n Training (new)

Desiree' (sequoia01) | 303 comments Mod
Savvy is written by Ingrid Law and is a Newbery Honor, 2009.

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