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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

When war ravages the native people on a small fictitious tropical island, the even minimal infrastructure collapses, including the small school house, and all the teachers flee. Left to wander about aimlessly, when not running for their lives, the barefoot children flounder under gunfire mixed with boredom. The only white man on the island, labeled "Pop Eye" by the youngsters, but otherwise known as Mr. Watts, initiates a magical mental rescue by the daily out loud reading of Charles Dickens' well known classic Great Expectations to the small gathering of students.The daily visit into Dickens' London world of the young boy named Pip, gives the children, and later their parents, who hear second hand about the novel, an escape into a world of literature as their physical world collapses. Told from the point of view of a precocious thirteen year old young girl, as she matures, this novel transports the reader not only onto a remote lush island, but also into a world of a beautifully written story. Ironically cleaver, the author simultaneously lures the reader into this imaginative world as the native people are also being led into the world of Charles Dickens. Ultimately, Mr. Watts' unselfish gift of the love of literature given to the native island inhabitants causes him to lose his own life. Beautifully written, amazingly creative, and enticingly spellbinding, Mister Pip gives the lover of powerful, thoughtful literature a reason to fall in love once again with a story within a story. Mister Pip may be my favorite read of the summer of 2007! To be released nationally on July 31, readers have a treat in store! - Nan Goodman