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Review of A Clatter of Jars

graff_clatter of jarsA Clatter of Jars
by Lisa Graff
Intermediate    Philomel    218 pp.
5/16    978-0-399-17499-5    $16.99    g

Graff returns to the magical world introduced in A Tangle of Knots (rev. 7/13), where citizens are either Talented (possessing gifts that range from asparagus cooking to memory manipulation) or Fair, with no extraordinary abilities. Here, children with Singular Talents attend summer camp at Camp Atropos, “a haven for the most remarkable children in the world,” just outside Poughkeepsie, New York. These include the five campers from Cabin 8: twin sisters Chuck and Ellie (Talent: frog identification); brothers Renny and Miles (the former a mind reader, the latter possibly Fair); and Lily (who has the ability to move objects with her nose). Remarkable they are, but perfect they’re not, with campers jockeying to show off their Singular abilities and using their gifts to substitute for real human understanding and honest interaction. Each character struggles with truth, familial love, and acceptance, as Talents are lost and found, relinquished and stolen, borrowed and returned. And then there’s Fate, who also raises her head when least expected, reminding readers that it’s not the talents we’re given but what we make of them that creates happiness.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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