Happy MMGM, Reading Nook!
Today, I am reviewing the surprisingly delightful Woundabout, by Lev and Ellis Rosen.
I went into the book knowing thing about the Rosen brothers or the book, and came out of it with a definite appreciation for their delightful quirky town, and the gentle lessons of learning how to move on from loss.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: June 23rd 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
In the wake of tragedy, siblings Connor and Cordelia and their pet capybara are sent to the precariously perched town of Woundabout to live with their eccentric aunt. Woundabout is a place where the mayor has declared that routine rules above all, and no one is allowed to as questions--because they should already know the answers.
But Connor and Cordelia can't help their curiosity when they discover a mysterious crank that fits into certain parts of the town, and by winding the crank, places are transformed into something beautiful. When the townspeople see this transformation, they don't see beauty--they only see change. And change, the mayor says, is something to fear. With the mayor hot on their trail, can Connor and Cordelia find a way to wind Woundabout back to life?
The Rosens introduce us to Connor and Cordelia, a brother and sister who relocate with their pet capybara to live with their aunt in the town of Woundabout, after the death of their parents. However, afer the brother and sister arrive in Woundabout, they realize that there's something strange about their new home. It's lacking modernity, and residents clearly fear change of any kind.
It's now up to Connor and Cordelia to figure out just what has driven the town to be so afraid of change, and whether the mysterious holes they keep finding all over town can help them change Woundabout for the better..
From the start, it's very apparent that the Rosen brothers have crafted a beautiful, thoughtful look at love and loss. When readers first meet Cordelia and Connor, the siblings have just lost their parents, and are adjusting to life without them. Their loss is felt acutely by both their aunt and her driver Gray, both of whom have experienced separate losses of their own.
But as the book progresses, the Rosen brothers begin to gently challenge readers into considering how different people approach loss, and whether it's better to keep any change from happening to prevent further potential loss, or whether it's better to learn to adjust and move on. There's a nice contrast between the stubborness of the town's mayor with his refusal to change, and the pragmatism of Gray - someone who has experienced a lot of change - and readers see how Cordelia and Connor make it a point to learn from both.
As Cordelia and Connor delve deeper into the history of the town and the mystery of the holes, the Rosens also tactfully explores how even unwanted change can inspire and challenge people to greater heights. There's a great subplot about a young girl who learns to continue to do what she loves even after her life is irrevocably changed, and it's a great pivot point and inspirational moment for the siblings, going forward.
But even after the siblings take the leap to revive the town to what it once was, the Rosens acknowledge that change can still be very scary for people, and that is absolutely okay. Change is not easy for all, and it will often take a group effort of everyone banding together, to work toward a better future.
Bottom line: this is a short but delightfully quirky book, which is made all the better by Ellis Rosen's beautiful drawings. They're black and white, and really emphasize the pure quirk and hidden vibrancy of Woundabout.
Lev and Ellis Rosen absolutely won me over with their wonderfully, thoughtful story about struggling with loss, and the impetus it takes to move forward. There are great lessons about the importance of not hanging onto the past, and the value of using past misfortune to develop stronger, better and more positive futures. These are all great lessons for readers, and they're only accentuated by Ellis Rosen's stirring black-and-white sketches.
I highly, highly recommend this book for all MG fans, but also for readers who are looking either for books that deal with the concept of loss in a unique, thoughtful way, and also for readers who are looking for books similar to Lemony Snicket.