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November 6, 2019

2

#AUSReadingMonth 2019 The Endsister

by N@ncy

 

Introduction:

  1. The Outhwaite family inherits an old mansion
  2. …on the other side of the world.
  3. Supernatural forces, events and ghosts soon appear!
  4. Parents:
  5. Olly – Mother (teacher)
  6. Dave – father (lawyer who left the law to work with hands, build fences)
  7. Outhwaite children:
  8. Teenage Else, the violinist who abandons her violin
  9. Nature-loving Clancy.
  10. Twins, Oscar-and-Finn, Finn-and-Oscar
  11. Baby of the family, Sibbi
  12. Ghosts:
  13. Almost Annie (AA)
  14. Hardly Alice  (HA)

 

Parallels: ghosts vs sisters

  1. Penni Russon has carefully thought out her characters:
  2. AA and Sibbi are both sensitive and the younger ghost, younger (end) sister
  3. HA and Else are both detached and the elder ghost and elder sister

 

Contrasts:  Sibbi – Else:  chapter 42

  1. Sibbie  claims to see the ghosts
  2. Else describes herself “I am a ghost”.
  3. Else:” I wander the house as silent as a ghosts that Sibbi keeps claiming to see
  4. I am a ghost, watching from a great distance, never answering.”

 

Contrasts:  Mother (Olly) vs  Father (Dave)

  1. She is not a ‘hands-on’ mother.
  2. I felt her priorties were unbalanced after the
  3. move to London. The children are dealing with a
  4. massive shift in environment
  5. (no friends, lost pets, comfort of a familiar home)
  6. Olly is  more concerned with finishing her thesis.
  7. The father, Dave, in contrast, has given up his job a a  lawyer and
  8. turned to working with his hands
  9. being closer to home
  10. (carpentry, building fences, working the land).
  11. In London Dave  takes the children on school tours
  12. ….while Olly is writing at home.
  13. The most beneficial thing for teenagers and younger children
  14. is good relationships with their parents.
  15. Will Olly change…?
  16. …and learn to spend more loving, quality time with her children.

 

Symbol: violin

  1. Penni Rousson has taken a simple violin to propel the plot.
  2. Young readers perhaps can connect with Else who wants
  3. to abandon music lessons (…I did too when I learned to play  the piano!)
  4. But the violin conveys deeper levels of meaning about Else.
  5. Violin music means that you are full of 
  6. interior grace and a kind of beauty.
  7. This interior and can never be taken away at any time in your life,
  8. Else.…has an interior she has not yet discovered.
  9. Many people  assure her she has musical talent
  10. ….but she must find that out for herself.
  11. Abandon violin lessons….?
  12. …or persevere and find the best in yourself. (achieve goals)
  13. Encouraging a child to partake in music, sports or academics helps
  14. a child’s brain to be hardwired for  the future.

 

Points of tension:

  1. Keeping reader turning the pages:
  2. Attic room that no one must ever enter, why?
  3. What will family do once Aunt Dorthy’s estate is settled?
  4. In attic smth is waking….cold damp shadow drifts into Sibbi’s heart. (omen)
  5. She take scissors from desk in the study.
  6. She hides them in her bedroom…why?
  7. Sibbi: “I know what an endsister is.”
  8. (…reader does not yet know!) (ch 50)
  9. Does Outhwiate House need  a ghostbuster?

 

Strong  point: 

  1. Ghosts are speaking in only 11 chapter of 85!
  2. That is only 12%.
  3. In the moments their voice is heard
  4. ….they are just chatting
  5. not sending  shivers down my spine!
  6. But Penni Russon does not disappoint
  7. after she raised the feeling of spooky dread
  8. …in the second half of the book.
  9. The children have voice in chapters
  10. 32 chapters Else (16 yr…teen trying to fit in, make friends) 38%
  11. 21 chapters Sibbi (4yr….many tantrums, haunted by ghosts) 24%
  12. 19 chapters Clancy (14 yr…nature/animal lover, misses his dog and possum) 22%
  13. The twins speak in chapters….but not noted
  14. separately in titled sections.

 

Strong point:

  1. A child wants to feel safe and protected in his/her own home
  2. That is why Penni Russon spends 23 % of the book emphasizing how
  3. difficult it is for the children to leave  their home Australia
  4. board a plane and live in an
  5. old mansion in England with no friends around them.
  6. Example: ch 13
  7. Sibbi: The last time doing…. many things,
  8. Can you really get sick of home? (Sibbi)
  9. Oh, it’s not a real sickness, Sibbi. More like sadness (Mother)
  10. Russon  also includes situations kids can relate to:
  11. moving house, quitting music lessons, losing pets
  12. …Spider the dog and Hester the possum.

 

Weak point:  pace

  1. First 23% book….dragged on and on,
  2. family dynamics, at the airport, in the plane
  3. …..when will the ghost story start?
  4. I expected a spooky story and a house haunted by ghosts
  5. from the beginning of the book.
  6. Penni Russon has decided that family dynamics
  7. is an important part of the book.
  8. I agree family is important…but moving from Australia to London
  9. could have been written in a few chapters instead of 20 chapters!

 

Weak point

  1. Those who love action and tension should look for another book.
  2. 50% of the book  is about moving house, flying to England,
  3. choosing bedrooms in old mansion and taking school tours.
  4. When and what will trigger a building the sense of dread?
  5. .keep reading…in chapter 60….then it starts!

 

Strong point:    Else vs. Olly (Mother)

  1. Penni Russon cleverly uses role reversal literary device.
  2. Else (16 yr) is forced to exchange the duties and
  3. …responsibilities with her mother.
  4. Each is now doing what the other used to do.
  5. Instead of being a helper (Olly),
  6. the Mother needs help.
  7. Else is the adult-like character in chapter 64!
  8. This chapter is filled with Else’s reflections.….
  9. Excellent example how a teenager grows and changes!
  10. #EpiphanyMoment
  11. “This is the tight little life I have made for myself….”

 

Weak point:

  1. Russon describes  in chapter 1 something unknown
  2. in the attic room that on must ever enter
  3. ...cobwebbed, shadows shrinking from approaching light.”
  4. This hook would hold any reader’s interest.
  5. Unfortunately we hear no more references to it.
  6. After reading 34% of the book…. (ch 30)
  7. “the murmuring of its shadow-self up in the attic…”
  8. is mentioned.
  9. I feel between 1%-34% there
  10. should be more indications that
  11. …spookiness is coming.
  12. Use the hook more often!

 

Strong point:      characterization

  1. Penni Russon subtly reveals through
  2. the  Else’s many reflections…
  3.   — the teenage brain —
  4. Else’s inexplicable behavior
  5. Mood Swings
  6. “You just don’t understand”
  7. Trapped in a cage

 

Conclusion:

  1. It is difficult for me to review children’s literature.
  2. I have to look at the book from the child’s POV! 
  3. The narrative at first glance can be read in  a few hours.
  4. But I decided to read slowly, deeper and try to
  5. discover WHY this book was awarded
  6. Aurealis Award  Best children’s fiction 2018.
  7. There were weak points…and strong points
  8. because we all read a book in our own personal way.
  9. This  simple children’s book…was a challenge in
  10. more ways than one.
  11. I had  to reminded myself that it is NOT written to
  12. please an adult reader (me)…but for children.
  13. I had to go back many years and place myself in
  14. a childhood bubble!
  15. #WorthYourReadingTIme

 

Last Thoughts:

  1. This book surprised me!
  2. Well-constructed,
  3. characters with clear foil to highlight differences, e
  4. motion controlled…
  5. spookiness suggested.
  6. Great reading for young children and adults!

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 6 2019

    I still think that the best children’s literature has something both for their young readers as well as any adult who might venture in too. Sounds like this is one of those 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Nov 6 2019

      This children’s book really surprised me in a good way!
      As I said I have to work very hard NOT to judge this type of book ….as I would a book for an adult audience. I’m looking for a children’s book with some humor…not so many ‘life lessons’
      I loved The 13 Clocks (fantasy, 1950) tale written by James Thurber and childhood favorite
      Stuart Little (novella, 1945) by American E. B. White. Despite being books from 1940s-1950s they have never lost their charm!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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