Subscribe to The Horn Book

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.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind