There is so much to love about book 55 — chiefly because, I realize that, after closing the book with a very satisfying and lovely closing paragraph, the misfit characters really come to life and are entirely endearing and the stakes are actually high to justify the adventures these characters must embark on. This is a children’s book that features almost no children (although some of the actions taken can be easily seen as childish and can be easily understood by child readers.) I was surprised at the honestly brutal descriptions of some of the violent actions in the book and the cover definitely does not prepare a reader for those moments.
I cannot quite decide how I feel about the emotional gap between my delight at the often jokey and light-hearted (and clever) narrative tone and my dismay at the cruel behaviors a couple of characters exhibit throughout the book. It’s almost dizzying — the changing of pacing and sensibilities. That said, I wasn’t distraught, just aware of the idiosyncrasy.
A few words about the glorious illustrations: Although I’m only to evaluate based on the text as a member of the Newbery committee, I can’t help but responding positively and being impressed by the skill of the book’s illustrator — those few full page illustrations are done flawlessly: I want to scan, print, and frame them!