Steven and I will be flying to Dallas on Friday for 5 days of playing volleyball in the Junior Nationals. Anyway, the 14 hour bus ride gives me plenty of time to read and this time I chose the book The Hop by Sharelle Byars Moranville.
There's a lot going on in this book, a grandma with cancer, two parents who are busy with work, a young girl who wonders if her parents have time with her, and urban sprawl taking over a woods and wetlands. The thing is, as I read it, even though I knew there was a lot going on, I never felt overwhelmed by so many plot lines, they all blended together so well that I think kids will enjoy it too.
The author goes back and forth between a toad named Tad and a girl named Taylor. Both have similar things going on in their lives. Tad discovers something special about himself when he wakes from his winter sleep. He's not really comfortable with it and he tries to hide it from his little toad friends who live in Toadville-by-Tumbledown. When he reveals the fact that he had dreams during his winter sleep to the Seer, a wise old toad who also dreams, Tad is identified as the toad to save Toadville-by-Tumbledown from The Rumbler. When the earthmoving equipment known as The Rumbler shows up to destroy Toadville-by-Tumbledown, Tad sets out on a quest to find Reno and kiss the queen.
Taylor is a young girl who enjoys spending time with her grandma, Eva. Eva lives in the country and plants gardens of flowers and vegetables. Taylor adores her and her country place with the pond and the tumbledown shed. Taylor and Eva spend so much time together because Taylor's parents are busy being successful. They are tied up in meetings and on phone calls and answering texts so Taylor and Eva spend time planting and roaming the countryside. It is revealed that Eva has cancer and isn't able to do as much as she once was due to the chemo treatments. We also learn that for one week every summer, Taylor's parents go to Reno for the Old Time Rock and Roll Fest. It turns out that they play in an oldies band and Taylor has never taken an interest in it, she prefers to spend that week with Eva every summer. As the earthmoving equipment moves in to destroy the forest and pond by Eva's house, Taylor wants to protest and save the trees, but her parents and grandma inform her that this year she will be going to Reno because Evas will be in the hospital unable to care for her.
The two stories come together in Reno. Even though I predicted what would happen in the end, Sharelle Byars Moranville does a wonderful job of keeping the reader in the story. I wanted to keep reading to see how she was going get us to the end. Part magic, part social awareness, part fairy tale, part family love, The Hop by Sharelle Byars Moranville will be enjoyed by readers 3rd and up and would make a great read aloud with cliff hangers and predictions and imagination. I liked it.