Monday, September 25, 2017

Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package by Kate DiCamillo, 2017

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What will it take for a cynical older sister to realize she's a born accordion player -- with music in her heart?

Eugenia Lincoln is a practical person with no time for gee-gaws, whoop-de-whoops, or frivolity. When an unexpected package containing an accordion arrives at her house, she is determined to have nothing to do with it. But her plans to sell the accordion, destroy the accordion, and give the accordion away all end in frustration. How can Eugenia stop being tormented by this troublesome package? Might she discover that a bit of unforeseen frivolity could be surprisingly . . . joyous?

(112 pages)

I've read many of DiCamillo's books over the years (Because of Winn-Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, The Magician's Elephant, etc.), and have enjoyed all of them. I loved Because of Winn-Dixie so much that I actually opted to read a translated version of it in Spanish class a couple years ago! I knew that she'd written some books for younger kids, and had actually picked up the first Mercy Watson book at some point but decided it was a little too young for my normal reading tastes. When I was offered the opportunity to review an early copy of DiCamillo's upcoming release Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package, though, I simply couldn't refuse on the basis of its target age group.

Every few months, I find myself holding onto a kids' book that I've somehow decided to review. Each time, I discover something new about the unfamiliar genre–whether it's that the stories can be way more complicated than I'd expected or that the "kiddy" illustrations often actually really enhance the reading experience. This time, I wasn't blown away by the story's complexity (though I did like the way so many eclectic characters are thrown into Eugenia's life!). The illustrations were quite nice. I enjoyed the simple little story about Eugenia's annoyance about the accordion and her attempts to free herself from it, though the very cynical part of me argues that her sister and neighbors were really being pests by continually trying to make her play the instrument she clearly wasn't comfortable with. Does privacy and personal autonomy not really exist in children's books?

Anyway, younger readers of the Mercy Watson books will be happy to know that Mercy (who, just so everyone else knows, is a sentient pig) is featured in Eugenia Lincoln. There's a range of characters in it, and I honestly have no idea how many other ones are also from the other children's books DiCamillo has written. Regardless, though, it's a cute story that's well told and I'm sure many kids will snap it up.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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