17 January 2011

Figgs & Phantoms; Ellen Raskin

Figgs  &  PhantomsFiggs & Phantoms by Ellen Raskin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mona Newton's life is a trying one: she's constantly embarrassed by her flamboyant family, the Figgs, and really only connects with her uncle Florence. Together they form the Figg-Newton Giant, who appears once a month to steal books from the top shelf of Ebenezer Bargain's book store, and then walk slowly back to Newton "Newt" Newton (aka "Dad")'s used car lot.

The Figg family follows a strange religion, one based on finding a mysterious island, Capri (not the one we all know). Several of the Figg forebears have found it, leaving behind notes that the family reads out in a monthly ritual. Florence is preparing to leave for Capri himself, much to Mona's dismay. When he does finally leave - or die, as the rest of the world sees it - Mona is distraught and, in her grief, she manages to visit Capri for a little while.

I wouldn't call this magical realism for kids, but it's close. The oddness of the Figg-Newton clan, the concept of Capri, and the interjections from the people of Pineapple (the town in which this all takes place) might confuse younger readers but if they stick with it they should enjoy this reprint.

ARC provided by publisher.

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