You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) by Ruth White (Delacorte Press, coming June 14, 2011, for ages 9 to 12).
Meggie is eleven years old, almost twelve. She lives in rural North Carolina with her older brother David, their widowed mother, and Gramps. Meggie and her family are average people. The kids do well in school and have friends. Mom is a teacher. Gramps is an artist, which explains the occasional splatter of blue paint in his hair.
But something strange is happening in their peaceful town. Rumors are swirling: there are aliens among us! Meggie still has nightmares from similar rumors when they lived in California. Now it's happening here.
Aliens? Here on Earth? Could it be?
When scary creatures come after them, Meggie and her family have to escape in the middle of the night. They find themselves in an unusual city. It's clean, safe, and happy. People never seem to get upset about anything. And everyone tells Meggie and her family, "You'll like it here. Everybody does."
Ha! Rest assured that things are not what they seem!
To tell you more would be to spoil the plot of this fun and quirky story. I think it's safe to say you'll recognize some nods to Homer's Odyssey as well as "The Twilight Zone" (although today's kids might not) and some classics of children's lit, like The Wizard of Oz. There are also homages to famous political leaders, singers, and artists. You can just tell Ruth White had a blast writing this. And if her name sounds familiar, she's the author of the Newbery-honor winning Belle Prater's Boy and other books. But here she takes on science fiction and it rocks! This even reminded me a little bit of No Passengers Beyond This Point, which I reviewed here.
You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) is the perfect summer read. It'll whisk you away to another world just as a twist reveals something surprising. And although there's plenty of food for thought here, the pace is lightning-fast (I read this in one day). In fact, the opening sentence is such a shocker, it'll grab you and pull you in.
Meggie tells most of the story in the present tense and she's a wonderful character, with realistic problems, including being teased by her brother. You'll find yourself sympathizing with Meggie from the first page. A few chapters are narrated by David, whose voice is totally different. The growing, changing relationship between the siblings is one of the most impressive parts of this novel.
Pick up You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does) and have a blast!
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger. Go HERE to see what she's reviewing today.
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UPDATE: Deb Marshall joins in with this post including a giveaway!
What marvels of children's lit have YOU read this week?