Monday, April 26, 2010

Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Keeper, by Kathi Appelt, is a children's novel that probably will mean more to adults.  I don't think I would have understood the meaning behind the story as a ten-year-old.  As a thirty -something adult, I "got it".  Or at least I understood my version of the story.  I wonder if my thoughts line up with the intention of the author? 

Keeper is a ten-year-old girl who lives on a little stretch of land on the Gulf of Mexico.  It is the World Unto Itself according to her neighbor Mr. Beauchamp.  Keeper lives with Signe, who is like her mother but isn't.  She works for Dogie, who is like her father but isn't.  Next door is Mr. Beauchamp who whittles her figurines and tells her stories.  He is like her grandfather but isn't.  Along with the adults who watch over her, she has BD (Best Dog), Captain the seagull, Too (another dog), and Sinbad the one-eyed cat.

Keeper believes that her mother was a mermaid who left her with Signe when she was a toddler.  When the perfect day goes completely wrong, she sets out in a boat to try to find her mother.  She truly believes that Meggie Marie, her mermaid mother will make things right.

I thought this story was beautiful.  It's all about figuring out that you have exactly what you need, even when you don't realize it.  It is perfectly appropriate for the audience it was meant for although there are hints of homosexuality between two characters.  That's only a small caution in a lovely story.  Like I mentioned above, children may not understand the deeper meanings so it's a great book to read and discuss with your kids.

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