Friday, January 24, 2014

FOODFIC: The Danger Box - Blue Balliett

A boy in a small town who has a different way of seeing.
A curious girl who doesn’t belong.
A mysterious notebook.
A missing father.
A fire.
A stranger.
A death.

That’s what the book jacket says this story is about.

I think it’s actually a love letter to grandmothers, especially those as magical as Zoomy’s. Here, let me introduce you:

She knows how to say and do things that land in the right spot, like they belong. She makes the world seem like a safe and happy place, a place where many things are possible and there’s always a hug waiting. A hug plus a hodilly-hum. And some homemade blueberry jam, the kind with whole berries in it.
Don’t you wish you knew her? Don’t you kind of feel like you already do?

You see, Zoomy has plenty of daily obstacles to overcome, like being smaller than the other kids, having directionally challenged hair, and needing such thick glasses for his Pathological Myopia that he gets his fair share of teasing. Not that fair and teasing really belong in the same sentence, but that’s not the point I want to make here, which is that, despite his issues, is a mostly happy and secure kid.

And that’s all because of his grandparents, who discovered him in a cat carrier on their front stoop one day and have loved him unconditionally ever since. Loved him perhaps even more than his father, their no-good son Buckeye, who pops back into their lives after years of absence. Buckeye’s also the one who brings the danger box into the Chamberlain’s lives, but, again, that’s less important than how Zoomy and his grandparents navigate the ensuing turmoil.

Because the message here – the real lesson I think we should all take away from the story – is that if a child feels safe, is truly and unconditionally loved, then he can handle any box that’s thrown in his path. :)

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