Saturday, December 09, 2006

MockNomination for A Drowned Maiden's Hair

(As promised, here's the first of my "justification" statments for the books on our discussion list. If I were on the committee, I'd be writing this in order to convince other committee members that this book (which they might not care for) does stand up to the Newbery award criteria. No plot summary necessary, since everyone's read it. You get about a hundred words in which to make your colleagues re-read the book with a different eye, in the hopes that when you come to the discussion table, most of your persuasion has already done its work....)

A Drowned Maiden’s Hair stands out for its complexity within a predictable form, and distinctively engaging narrative. Schlitz takes her time to develop a plot and characters, but the pace never lags. Her talents as a playwright show in the way she sets a scene, develops tension, and uses conversation. She has a dramatic flair, right from the opening sentence, that shows an attention to and appreciation for her audience, framing the story in two parts or “acts” with a coda, that has the pacing of a play. The climaxes in action serve to further unveil the complex Hawthorne sisters to Maud and the reader, resulting in a deeply nuanced version of a classic orphan story.

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