________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 28. . . .March 31, 2017


Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess.

Shari Green.
Toronto, ON: Pajama Press, 2017.
237 pp., trade pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $17.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77278-017-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77278-033-8 (hc.).

Subject Headings:
Deaf children-Juvenile fiction.
Stepfamilies-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Bev Brenna.

**** /4



Our house on Pemberton Street
with the red front door
wildflower garden out back
window seat just right for reading
has a For Sale sign jammed
in the front lawn.
It’s the ugliest thing
I’ve ever seen.


Macy McMillan is in grade six and struggling with an upcoming transition. Soon her mom and Alan will be married, and Macy’s family will expand further to include Alan’s six-year-old twin daughters. In her angst, Macy manages to alienate her best friend and then suffers loneliness at school as well as ongoing resentment at her mother’s decision, further irritated by a school assignment involving geneology. A new friendship with 86-year-old Iris Gillan, a neighbor who is also preparing to move, assists Macy in dealing with the changes in her life and contributes much to this narrative about the importance of one’s own individual story.

      One of the striking things about the characterization of Macy is that she is profoundly deaf, communicating primarily through sign language. Green’s portrayal is highly authentic, and the various interactions Macy experiences are seamlessly introduced.

      Both Macy and Ms. Gillan love books, and this connection offers a chance for intergenerational reading. Ms. Gillan responds to Macy’s favourite title, The Tale of Despereaux, just as Macy finds solace in a book of Ms. Gillan’s, Anne of Green Gables. Other adult references predict a reading world ahead for Macy, Les Misérables, for example, and she learns to think about books as objects of solace as well as entertainment.

      Told as a verse-novel, in a light yet poignant style similar to Green’s previous title, Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, there is much to admire here including a clear plot line, rich character development, and sudden, incisive humour. In addition, it’s clear that Macy is a young girl living in contemporary times rather than a projection of the author’s own childhood, and the book’s details, including its school and community settings, feel modern and accurate. Common to many other verse-novels, the present-tense, first-person narrative results in a sense of immediacy as well as a delivery of the intensely personal perspective of the main character. Choices in formatting enhance readability, extending this book to a wide age and ability range. Short line lengths and spacing between stanzas support comprehension, with wide indenting and use of italics to flag the written communication included between characters throughout the story. In addition, Macy’s language, whether she is speaking or signing, is included in bold type, as are the contributions—both fingerspelling and signing— of other characters as they communicate with her. Occasional word pictures enhance meaning, such as Macy’s tree-shaped description of her family tree, and a striking description of Ms. Gillan’s bookshelves:

shelves and     shelves and     shelves and
shelves and     shelves and     shelves and
shelves and     shelves and     shelves and
shelves and     shelves and     shelves and
shelves and     shelves and     shelves and
shelves and     shelves and     shelves and

Highly Recommended.

Bev Brenna, a literacy professor at the University of Saskatchewan, has 10 published books for young people.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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