Appelt, Kathi Keeper (galley)
Atheneum 2010 416p 19.99
Young girls discovers true meaning of family VG
After a particularly trying day, Keeper must find her real mother. She sets out into the Gulf of Mexico to find the mermaid/mother that she knows exists. One harrowing adventure after another shakes loose Keeper’s memory of her abandonment as a 3-year old, and she realizes that her true family is the one she has now.
The Keeper is a creatively handcrafted novel about the confusion of a young girl resulting from abandonment by her mother when she was only 3 years old. The beach setting, the characters and the plot are almost seamless when “whap!” The reader is hit with a suggestion of homosexuality halfway through the book! A younger child will be confused when, through the use of flashback, author Kathi Appelt has teenaged Mr. Beauchamp touch the hand of another 15-year old male intimately. If one can reconcile the addition of this confusing chapter, the book is a powerful look at love and acceptance. Siren is raising Keeper ever since Meggie Marie abandoned her. Siren’s mistake is in allowing Keeper to believe that Meggie Marie is a mermaid! Keeper’s need to go out into a dingy to find her mother in the sea stems from one very bad day in which she breaks Siren’s favorite bowl, ruins Dogie’s ukulele and kills Mr. Beauchamp’s prized flowers. Keeper’s pets, from a seagull named Captain to her dog named BD, are her only friends in this remote part of Texas which borders the Gulf of Mexico. To escape her traumatic day, she embarks on a journey to find her mother which nearly causes her demise. Her pets accompany her, and in these chapters lies the creativity of the story as Keeper interacts with Charlie and BD, communicates with the sea and tries to survive. The journey is one in which Keeper realizes that her mother is not a mermaid, that Siren and Dogie are her true family and that she needs to move forward in life and put this childhood fantasy behind her. Realistic Fiction Squaresky, Martha