cover image The Strange Night Writing of Jessamine Colter

The Strange Night Writing of Jessamine Colter

Cynthia C. DeFelice. MacMillan Publishing Company, $13.95 (51pp) ISBN 978-0-02-726451-7

Only 51 pages long, DeFelice's novella has a wistful mood and a gently unwinding pace. Jessamine is an elderly woman who has always found pleasure in calligraphing the public posters, menus and invitations to events in her small town. Then she finds herself writing of events before they happen. She accepts and adapts to this secret gift, although she occasionally passes on her knowledge, telling the man whose obituary she writes that it is time for him to settle his affairs. Callie, a young friend who has apprenticed herself to Jessie, learns calligraphy and takes over the chronicling of the town when Jessie dies. Delicately structured and exquisitely told, this work has been unfortunately packaged; its intended audience may pass it up. Hesitant readers will like the slimness, but not the jacket painting of an old woman. But the book's brevity may turn off more thoughtful readers, who will revel in its poetic language. Ages 10-up. (September)