Mischief, Mad Mary, and Me

Dawn Knight, Author, Jared Taylor Williams, Illustrator, David Montiel, Illustrator Greenwillow Books $15 (112p) ISBN 978-0-688-14865-2
Readers will feel the chill of a Minnesota winter throughout debut author Knight's crisp narrative. Details about Brittany Bennett's home life--the leaky roof of her underground house (called the ""pneumonia hole"" by taunting schoolmates); the oil stove, which serves as a furnace; and the ill health of her father and younger sister--show rather than tell hardships which the narrator takes for granted while her attention is focused on other things, mainly the foreboding yet intriguing old woman next door, and the bear-like stray dog Mischief, who streaks through Brit's yard. Brit wants to adopt the dog, but it seems that her neighbor, ""Mad"" Mary, who buys dog food at the grocery store and leaves a bone on her porch, has already claimed him for a pet. Predictably, Brit learns that there is more to Mary than meets the eye before the matter of Mischief is settled. The author's understated style and use of wintry imagery effectively convey themes of isolation and endurance, but it's frustrating that so little of Mary's background is revealed. Innuendoes about her colorful history and underlying sadness are periodically dropped, but truth is never fully extracted from the rumors Brit hears. Exploring the inner layer of this tender story requires conjecture as well as sensitivity. Ages 8-up. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997
Release date: 05/01/1997
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Other - 86 pages - 978-0-606-15912-8
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-380-73135-0
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-17377-3
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