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*My One Hundred Adventures* by Polly Horvath- young readers fantasy book review
Also by Polly Horvath:

Northward to the Moon
My One Hundred Adventures
by Polly Horvath
Ages 9-12 272 pages Schwartz & Wade September 2008 Hardcover    

Polly Horvath’s mastery of the English language shines in her latest children’s novel, My One Hundred Adventures, immediately placing the reader into summertime by the seashore. Through metaphors and beautiful descriptions, the reader enters the contemporary world of Jane, eldest daughter of a poet, living in a small cottage by the ocean in Massachusetts.

Jane is not unhappy, yet she longs for more than this simple life with her single mother and three younger siblings. Like so many children growing up, she wants adventure yet at the same time feels she must figure out how to always do what is right. Jane experiences fourteen adventures, all of which are inextricably linked and lead her to a greater understanding of her family and of life itself.

A Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, her mother embraces life as it comes, living each moment to the fullest. Jane and her siblings are without a father, but this particular summer, men enter their lives and partly fulfill that role in their relationship with their mother. Her unconventional family situation - a single mother with four children who do not know their fathers - is simply a fact of life. Avoiding any value statements, her family is what it is: not good, not bad.

Jane’s exciting adventures begins when she helps her pastor, a psychic wannabe, deliver Bibles. When they steal a hot air balloon and drop Bibles from the sky, Jane inadvertently injures a neighbor’s baby. Feeling guilty and wanting to protect her family from liability, Jane and her best friend end up babysitting the rest of the summer for this severely troubled family.

Issues of Jane’s unwed mother, the pastor’s belief in the paranormal, and the drunken, abusive father for whom Jane babysits may be too much for some children to grasp fully. Nonetheless, these subjects feed into the color and depth of the story as, one after another, the adventures continue with central themes of prayer, trust, and family surrounding each absurd situation.

Children wanting a lot of action will be disappointed; this just isn’t that kind of a book. My 12-year-old reviewing partner enjoyed the book and appreciated the beauty of the syntax but did not consider it to be a compelling read. She found many of the situations and characters far-fetched and difficult to relate to.

My One Hundred Adventures is the kind of book to savor, stop and consider, and read in the shade on a summer day. It will appeal to a more thoughtful, creative child, especially girls, not linear thinkers. Jane’s story pulls the reader into reflection, perhaps seeing their own lives as a series of adventures.

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  Kristine Wildner/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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