Monday, April 27, 2009


Summerland by Michael Chabon was originally published in 2002. My hardcover copy has 500 pages. This is a novel where baseball is a prominent feature. Since I don't really care for baseball, I wasn't sure if Summerland would pass the 50 page test, but it easily did. It may feature baseball, but it's also about fairies, new inventions, and Native American myths and legends, among other things. While classified as a young adult novel, Barnes & Noble puts the age range at 12 and up while Amazon has the reading level at ages 9-12, I can't imagine many in that age range fully appreciating Summerland. Actually the young target audience may need some introduction to Native American legends in order to understand parts of Summerland. The thing is, since Chabon wrote Summerland, the characters are well developed, and the descriptions can be exquisite. There is a considerable amount of wit and humor in the story. All in all, I think adults may end up enjoying Summerland more than children, although I'm going to wait a few years and then see if my soccer-playing nephew, currently 9, would like to give it a try. Right now I think the size of the book would intimidate him. highly recommended

Synopsis from the Publisher
Summerland is the story of a young hero on a quest through the strange world of the American Faery. This is a fantasy for readers of all ages, set against the background of the American myth. The Clam Island fairies are in grave peril. War is coming, another battle in an ancient conflict. When the band sends for a champion, they get an 11 year-old boy named Ethan Feld. He hates baseball and wants to quit his losing team, but Jennifer T. Rideout loves baseball and won't let him quit. The two find themselves on a journey that includes zeppelins, werefoxes, Indian mythology, sasquatches, wendigos, and the haunted 161 year old husk of George Armstrong Custer. Finally Ethan becomes who he is: a changeling, a hero, and even a man.

" Ethan said, 'I hate baseball.' " first sentence

"The car's name was Skidbladnir, but usually they just called her Skid. She was oranger than anything else within a five-hundred-mile radius of Clam Island, including traffic cones, U-Haul trailers, and a fair number of actual oranges. She was so old that, as she went along, she made squeaking and rattling noises that sounded more like the sounds of a horse buggy than of an automobile." pg. 3

"Mr. Feld was a large, stout man with a short but unruly beard like tangled black wool. He was both a recent widower and a designer of lighter-than-air dirigibles, neither a class of person known for paying a lot of attention to clothes." pg. 4

"It was agreed by nearly everyone who watched him take the field that Ethan Feld was the least gifted ball player that Clam Island had ever seen. It was hard to decide, really, why this should be so. Ethan was a boy of average height, a little stocky, you might have said, but healthy and alert. He was not a terrible klutz, and he could run pretty well, if something worth running from, such as a bee, was after him." pg. 9

" 'You better be ready, kid,' said a voice just behind him. 'Pretty soon now you going to get the call.' " pg. 21

" 'You're saying you can scamper from one world to another?'
'No, I can leap. And take you with me in the bargain,' said the werefox. 'And the name of this world is the Summerlands.' " pg. 42

"...'Now as I was saying, they are not very grand. In fact they are quite literally Little People.'
'Little people?' Ethan said, 'Wait. Okay. The Neighbors. They are. Aren't they? They're fair-'
'Fair Folk!' Cutbelly cut him off. 'Yes, indeed, that is an old name for them. Ferishers is the name they give themselves, or rather the name they'll consent to have you call them.' " pg. 43

"You came in through the living room, where there were three immense reclining chairs, so large that they left barely enough room for a small television set. One chair was red plaid, one was green plaid, and one was white leather. They vibrated when you pushed a certain button. The old ladies sat around vibrating and reading romance novels. They were big ladies and needed big chairs. They had a collection of over seven thousand five hundred romance novels. They had every novel Barbara Cartland ever wrote, all of the Harlequin romances, all the Silhouette and Zebra and HeartQuest books. The paperbacks were piled in stacks that reached almost to the ceiling. They blocked windows and killed houseplants and regularly collapsed on visitors. Island people who knew of the Rideout girl's taste in fiction would come by in the dead of night and dump grocery bags and liquor boxes full of romances in the driveway." pg. 115-116

1 comment:

Diane said...

WOW>> this story sounds powerful. I've never heard of it before, but was pleased to have read your review. Thanks