True (. . .sort of) – Hannigan

Generally, I read children’s books either because I want to preview them before I read them to my own children or because it’s part of my job. This is one of the first that I’ve really, well, ‘enjoyed’ is a hard word to use because of the subject matter, but admired. Underneath Hannigan’s flirtation with precociousness during the first half of this book, it’s clear something’s amiss – the green Impala, the mysterious Ferris Boyd. And Hannigan knows the familiar territory, the outsider(s), the inability of children to communicate with even the most well-meaning parents. She also knows her audience. The darkness here is suggested, but it’s hard even for the youngest readers to miss. Why is Ferris’ gender so hard for children to identify? What does Delly see when she watches Ferris swim? Why does Ferris run? As a parent, I identified with the terrified and heartsick Clarice. (For a change, our hero does not have an absent parent.) She wants to protect her children and can’t believe her child did not ask her for help. But adults have let Ferris and Delly down. Delly makes sure neither will happen again.

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