Saturday, February 04, 2006

Nobody's Fault by Jonathan Pearce

What do you do when your mom's been dead for seven years, your dad has a new wife, it's summer and you have nothing to do? If you are twelve-year-old Tery, you allow yourself to be coerced into working for the summer school edition of the Korndogger with Sheba, the queen herself, as your editor. What you don't do is tell people that you still have visions of your mother who gives advice and encouragement. Tery, whose name comes from Teru, a Japanese name meaning sunshine, in honor of Obahchan, her Japanese grandmother, thinks she is alone in her vision-seeing abilities until she interviews 106 year old Julius Caesar Kuhl, Junior for the newspaper. What began as a forced task to please her father and Sheba turns into a heart felt exploration of life in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake. Mr. Kuhl, the oldest man in town, just happens to be kin to Ritchie, vandal and prankster extraordinaire. Ritchie's appearances deftly coincide with disappearances of his grandfather's prized possessions. Is something more sinister going on? Readers will quickly turn pages to learn the conclusion.

The backdrop of earthquake and the unsettling transition from middle school to high school make this a book with historical focus and contemporary lessons. The author has created a history/mystery/coming of age stroy that works. I liked Tery's spunkiness and compassion. This would work well as background ofr San Francisco earthquake and lessons on preparedness.

Rating (0 - 10 scale): 9
Reviewer Age: 58
Reviewer City, State and Country: Timonium, MD US