January 16, 2008

Bloomability


Walk Two Moons is still my favorite of the Creech books I've read so far, and not just because it won the Newbery medal, but Bloomability made me laugh the hardest.


Dinnie is in Switzerland, near Lugano, with her aunt and uncle. Her family is poor, vagabond, and in trouble, so Dinnie's Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max take Dinnie away to the American school where Max is headmaster, but no one ever discussed it with Dinnie, so she feels a bit like she's been kidnapped.


When they arrive at their home in Switzerland, Dinnie posts a sign in her bedroom window that's supposed to read kidnapped in Italian, but her dictionary lists a few ways to say it, and Dinnie's not sure which to choose, so she chooses portare via a forza.


"Aunt Sandy said, 'I think that what you've written means take by force, like a command, as if you are asking someone to come into the house and kidnap you. Is that what you wanted to say?'


No I did not. But neither of us could figure out how to change take by force to taken by force.


Next I tried Help! but there were so many choices for that one word that I finally just aimed my pencil and stabbed at one. SERVITEVI! I wrote.


When Uncle Max came in to say goodnight, he looked at my sign and said, 'I think that what you've written means Help yourself! You know, as if you are inviting the burglars in to take all our belongings. Is that what you meant?'"


This section made me laugh so hard I was crying, and then I tried to read it out loud to R, and I couldn't even finish because I couldn't catch my breath. R didn't think it was nearly as funny, but there's just something about language mistakes that crack me up. I could barely get through David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day because I was in such hysterics in his French class that I couldn't even hold on to the book.


Also, though, I just love the aunt and uncle here. They're so casual and helpful, even when it's clear that she's wrestling them, and it reminded me of a conversation I might have with Obo. Being a parent is the hardest work ever, but being a guardian . . . as my friend dee ann likes to say, Christ on a cracker.
Oh, and the thing I just realized! Sal and Dinnie and Zinny (from Chasing Redbird) all know each other -- or know people who know each other-- from Bybanks Kentucky. I love it when authors thread characters through different books like that. It's so cool.

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