Thursday, October 29, 2009

William S. and the Great Escape by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Flap copy from hardcover:
"William S. Baggett is a good kid trapped in a really awful family. William has his running-away money ready to go, he's just been waiting until he's older than twelve to leave. When his big brothers flush his sister's pet guinea pig down the toilet, she insists they leave now. And take the two littlest Baggetts with them. So they head out in the middle of the night, ready to escape to their aunt Fiona's house.

Unfortunately the trip doesn't go exactly as planned. It's not so easy traveling with two little kids, and some help from a lonely rich girl makes it even more complicated. Will they ever make it to Aunt Fiona's? And if they do, will she let them stay?"

William S. Baggett has no choice but to plan his escape- he is too small, too nice, and too talented to survive in the Baggett household. That said, his escape plans are a distant dream, brought sharply into focus by his sister's determination to escape (with their younger siblings) from an increasingly abusive situation. The tale of the preparation and the escape make for a great adventure-read for children.

This is a wonderful book with a great retro-feel; the Depression-era tale resonates with authenticity. The quirky storyline and interesting cast of characters kept this adult reader involved; I'm sure younger readers would be equally engrossed.

On the other hand, there are darker themes that are touched on here so parents should be ready to discuss the issues of child abuse, welfare fraud, bullying and violence as they arise. All in all an excellent read!

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