Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

"Keeper leaned over the edge of the boat."

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Summary: On the night of the blue moon when mermaids are said to gather on a sandbar in the Gulf of Mexico, ten-year-old Keeper sets out in a small boat, with her dog BD and a seagull named Captain, determined to find her mother, a mermaid, as Keeper has always believed, who left long ago to return to the sea.

Publisher: Atheneum; 399 pages


tessyohnka said...

I'm a big big fan of Kathi Appelt -- I was so sure she was going to win for The Underneath, but was happy for the Newbery honor. This one is very strong, but I don't feel as certain about it as I did for The Underneath. I love how it just starts where it starts with Keeper yelling insults at crabs and then bit by bit, we piece together all that has happened. I love the author's style, I love the things we learn from her, I love the sprinkling of mythology and I am so glad that BD did NOT die! I guess I have two concerns:
1. I'm worried that the hint of homosexuality (Henri and Jack) will keep the book from being recommended.
2. I love the natural aspects of the story and I can believe that maybe a ten year old could hear crabs telling her to let them go, and I love the blurring of the line between realism and myth, but I'm just not sure how I feel about how that blurring is handled at the story's conclusion. At the same moment that Keeper remembers what really happened to her mother and comes to accept the reality that her mother is not a mermaid, she is being saved by a mythological creature. I should read this one again.

Laura said...

I just finished (well, this week) and really liked it. Right now it is in my top 5.

Rachael said...

I don't know how I feel about this book. I think the writing style (of going back and forth between characters as well as time) may be a bit much for some children. I can see some of them getting frustrated and confused.
I definitely agree that the subtle play of homosexuality may cause issue with readers, or with the reader's parent. My heart broke for Keeper when she finally remembered what happened when her mother left, I loved that this scene was illustrated.
So again, I think this is a book that I am quite undecided about, mostly because I didn't feel fully interested in the book until about the halfway mark.

Richie Partington said...


Lisa Kilian said...

Love, love, LOVE this book. I understand the worry with the homosexuality,but I believe Kathi has addressed this issue fairly and nonchalantly. There is no agenda,just a simple statement of what happened and the love that existed.

I agree: I was thrilled to see the scene where Signe takes Keeper in illustrated.

This book just tugged and tugged at my heart. It takes issues that are tough, real and with which children desperately need kind guidance, and gives them a firm hand to hold.

I believe this book to be stronger and more poignant than the Underneath... and I didn't think that could be possible.

Mary W said...

I know a lot of people liked this book, but I did not. It seemed like it just kept going and going and not enough was going on to keep me interested. There was too much flashing back and some stuff that I felt really didn't matter to the story. I would have liked it much better if it focused on Keeper's current danger. That being said of my personal taste, I do recognize that the writing is good. I have not read The Underneath so cannot comment on the difference between the two.

Anonymous said...

-I thought this was an enchanting, and beautiful story. It is definitely my favorite so far. I think that Appelt does an amazing job of intertwining a mythological world and reality. Appelt is able to capture a child's imagination so well it takes me back to read through the voice of Keeper.
-I think Lisa's statement on the homosexuality being presented is right on.
-I actually did not like the Underneath, but after falling in love with this book I think I am going to try to read it again to give it a second chance.

Miss Susan said...

This is my favorite so far, a beautifully told story with vivid and embraceable characters. I realize the homosexual undertones in Mr. Beauchamp's reminiscences might prevent some schools and parents from buying the book, but potential controversy should never prevent us from celebrating a beautiful piece of writing. I found it to be a tender story and a very human one.

deb said...

I think Appelt got the balance of realism and magical/mythical elements right in this one. The plotline moves so smoothly, despite the changing voices. And all the characters are so beautifully developed; you feel close to them before you realized you knew them! The coastal setting is also a huge part of this story and is fully drawn. A compelling storyline, but ultimately and simply a tender, rich story of family. I think that is why this story does and will touch readers. This one stays with you long after you put it down. One of my top three picks.