Monday, January 29, 2007


Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen

A Governor General's nominee for literature for children, 2006. By Glenn Huser.

This book's chapters alternate viewpoints between Skinnybones (a 17 year old foster child with attitude and model dreams) and the Wrinkle Queen (an 87 year old opera fan with a dream of her own). The dual voice thing works really well here because it sets up some delicious little ironies (proper dramatic irony, I mean, not Alanis no-a-black-fly-in-your-chardonnay-is-not-ironic irony), letting us readers see how very much alike the two are, while each harbours her own opinions and misgivings about the other.

Together they hatch a crazy scheme to give each their dream, but it involves some serious lies and it's a risky business, to be sure. Stuck together for two weeks on their hare-brained trip, they get along at times and scrap at times, but each sees something in the other, and they are willing to suck up a certain amount to get what they want.

As I was reading, I was imagining the different endings that might result. The heart-warming ending where they come to appreciate each other and live happily ever after, the Stone Angel ending where the old lady dies after her last wish has been fulfilled, and so on. This ending, though, didn't quite fall into any one of the scenarios, but rather blended a few things in a nice, but ultimately more realistic fashion. So while it's a happy ending, it's not a nice easy, rosy, tied-up-with-a-bow one. And it sure doesn't look like it's coming for a while.

Overall? I liked this one. It had shades of other things I've read, but it was fresh enough and tart enough to keep it from being the expected, the trite, the sappy Tuesdays with Morrie for the young that it could have been.

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Isn't Jean Barclay 91? And Tamara is 15?
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