Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kids Everywhere!

Today was the second day the students were back at school. So far all has gone smoothly, and I'm finding my second year to be much easier. I know the names and personalities, and can head off problems before they occur. Not that there are too many problems. By and large, our student population is pretty well-behaved and pleasant.

There is this one sweet second grader. I'll call him Robert, but obviously, that's not his real name. I saw him several times over the summer, and a couple of times around the school before the first day. Every time, without fail, he runs up to me as if he's spotted a celebrity and gives me a big hug. He is simply overflowing with enthusiasm for life, and I hope that never changes. I don't know what kind of student he is, but I'll tell you this, he is one of those kids that can just light up your day.

I've set up a few displays; my "LEAF Summer Behind and FALL in to a Good Book" ensemble is taking up the ginormous shadow box outside the library, and inside is my new book display, and a display of the books I read over the summer. One of those on my summer reads display is "Caddy's World," the most recent of Hilary McKay's books about the eccentric Casson family of London.

Let me start by saying I love McKay's Casson books. They are just the perfect blend of funny and serious, and all the strange happenings of this little family unit will keep you guessing constantly. This was the only one of them I hadn't read, and though it departs from the others in terms of it's timeline, it has the same spirit, and made me smile just as much.

In this offering, McKay takes us back in time to when Caddy was twelve, and baby sister Rose was about to come into her life. Even then, the Casson household was turbulent and topsy-turvy, although Caddy can remember a time when it was just her, Eve and Bill. She loves her family and home, and doesn't envy her friends, except perhaps for their stability and normalcy.

Caddy has three best friends. Ruby, the smart one, is being raised by her four grandparents together, in a quiet, scholarly home with an enormous pet cat. Beth, the perfect one, has a perfect home, a less-than-perfect little sister, and a beloved pony. Alison, who hates everyone, is all about image. Caddy is the bravest of the brave, but if I had to label her, I would call her selfless. She wants the best for her friends, and encourages them to be their best selves, even if it impacts her own life negatively. Each of these girls has problems in their seemingly idyllic lives, but none of them quite measure up to Caddy's.

Into her already eccentric home, the new baby has arrived early and clings precariously to life. Caddy, who has unsuccessfully nursed a succession of orphaned animals, has the feeling her fragile little sister will suffer the same fate. Father Bill is much more present in this book than he was in any of the others, and ends up being quite likeable, though Saffron refers to him even then as "Bloody Daddy."

I especially enjoyed how the book ended by flashing forward to the time of Caddy's fateful driving lesson, where, with little Rose in attendance, she meets darling Michael for the first time.

Though this is part of a series, this book could easily stand alone. It was equally as enjoyable as the others. These are books I would like to own, because I could read them over and over. Good thing they are on my library shelf; I can grab one any time I want. They never fail to put a smile on my face.

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