Kidz Book Buzz Blog Tour: The Year the Swallows Came Early (Review)

The Year the Swallows Came Early is a small and simple story--another reminder that a book doesn't have to be The Great American Novel to be enjoyable.

Eleanor "Groovy" Robinson loves cooking and plans to go to culinary school just as soon as she's old enough. But even Groovy's thoughtfully—planned menus won't fix the things that start to go wrong the year she turns eleven—suddenly, her father is in jail, her best friend's long-absent mother reappears, and the swallows that make their annual migration to her hometown arrive surprisingly early. As Groovy begins to expect the unexpected, she learns about the importance of forgiveness, understands the complex stories of the people around her, and realizes that even an earthquake can't get in the way of a family that needs to come together.

Swallows reminded me of several middle grade novels I've read in the last couple of years ... A Crooked Kind of Perfect, Waiting for Normal, Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree. They have similar flavors. (Strawberry, perhaps?) Short and sweet, some sweeter than others. But Swallows reads smoothly, and while it followed expected lines ("the odds are stacked against our small-town heroine, but she reaches down and pulls through") it didn't stick to all the cliches. .

The prose is smooth and creamy, full of flavor and detail, but not too rambling. The dialogue slides out of each character’s mouth with realistic simplicity.

In the end, I would hand Swallows to a patron over novels like Waiting for Normal and Emma Jean. There was even a fun novel-to-novel connection ... both Swallows and The London Eye Mystery contain a sentence about a crumpled-up piece of paper that's been thrown into a corner, uncurling "as if it wanted to be read." How about that for your daily trivia?


Becky said...

I hadn't made the connection to A Crooked Kind of Perfect until you mentioned it makes perfect sense. Both were fabulous books that I just enjoyed reading--became absorbed in.

Anonymous said...

hmmm. Never read A Crooked Kind of Perfect. Thanks for the suggestion. I loved The Year the Swallows Came Early, so I will happily buy A Crooked Kind of Perfect.

And...only a childeren's librarian could come up with the bit about The London Eye Mystery. I've never even heard of the book.

Noel, it's always fun and educational at your blog. Thanks!

Kathryn Fitzmaurice said...

Thank you, Noel, for your lovely review of The Year the Swallows Came Early. I know you see many books as a librarian, and so I'm happy you liked the prose and dialogue! And A Crooked Kind of Perfect is one of my favorites!

Noel De Vries said...

Thanks for saying hello, Becky and Sally and Kathryn. Comments brighten any day, and I have strep this morning. Not. Fun. At all.

But anyway... mmm, Sally, The London Eye Mystery is greatgood reading. 09 Cybils winner in MG fiction, in fact.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Noel De Vries said...

Thanks for commenting, Alanna. It's good to know there are lurkers, and I'm not just typing away to myself. (la la la...) Company is always welcome! Hope you enjoy yourself.