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Review of Tumble & Blue

Tumble & Blue
by Cassie Beasley; illus. by the author
Intermediate    Dial    392 pp.
8/17    978-0-525-42844-2    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-698-18907-2    $10.99

Way back when, there were strange things done in the Okefenokee Swamp. A plot was set in motion by two bad people, horse thief Walcott Montgomery and murderer Almira LaFayette. Their descendants, especially a couple of middle graders, Blue and Tumble, are doomed to play out the end of this tale of curses, courage, trickery, family feuds, and alligators. Blue, abandoned by his father, ends up at the home of his grandmother. His “fate” is that he seems destined to be a loser for life since he’s unable to win any fight or game or contest — not even tic-tac-toe. Tumble, a girl who feels responsible for the death of her brother, is determined to live by the precepts of a self-help book called How to Hero Every Day. They join forces to solve the puzzle of the past and neutralize the curse. In a mix of tall tale, magic realism, comic midgrade mayhem, and sweetness — a mix reminiscent of Sachar’s Holes (rev. 9/98) — Beasley creates a distinctive, energetic world in which kindness is a muscular value and quirkiness is organic to the setting. The onomatopoeic language is a treat. Running on a dirt road: “thuff thuff.” Folding up a sofa bed: “poppa-poppa-clang-thwooong.” And who could resist a book in which the word Okefenokee makes regular appearances?

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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