Down to Earth — Review

Thought for the Day:

“The business of the novelist is not to relate great events, but to make small ones interesting.”
~ Arthur Schopenhauer ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Critique groups can be great, but sometimes there are a few bad apples. Anne R. Allen has a terrific post HERE about some dangers of critiques. Enjoy!

Sue Heavenrich has a terrific guest post HERE on GROG with a whole lot of helpful sites for writers. Don’t miss this one.

Thinking about trying to sell to a small press? HERE is a guest post by Steven Capps on The Writer’s Path all about Lies Told by Small Presses.

I’m very busy with the end of the term in my picture book classes and with the news what it is, I think it would be best if I just leave you with some humor today.

From the Washington Post Style Invitation, in which it was postulated that English should have male and female nouns. Readers were asked to assign a gender to a noun of their choice and explain their reason.
The best submissions:
SWISS ARMY KNIFE: male, because even though it appears useful for a wide variety of work, it spends most of its time just opening bottles.
KIDNEYS: female, because they always go to the restroom in pairs.
TIRE: male, because it goes bald and often is over-inflated.
HOT-AIR BALLOON: male, because to get it to go anywhere you have to light a fire under it… and, of course, there’s the hot-air part.
SPONGES: female, because they are soft and squeezable and retain water.
ZIPLOC BAGS: male, because they hold everything in, but you can always see right through them.
SUBWAY: male, because it uses the same old lines to pick people up.
HOURGLASS: female, because over time, the weight shifts to the bottom.
HAMMER: male, because it hasn’t evolved much over the last 5,000 years, but it’s handy to have around.

I’m always on the lookout for a good coming-of-age novel. When I saw DOWN TO EARTH by Betty Culley on the review list for the Portland Book Review, I was intrigued. You don’t see middle-grade books very often that have dowsing as being central to the story. My parents were big proponents of dowsing and used a dowser to find a well on a piece of property they had. I think my dad even tried his hand at dowsing. Anyway, when I read a little about this book, I knew I had to read it. I’m so glad I did. Here is the review I wrote for PBR.

Henry comes from a long line of dowsers. Henry doesn’t know if he has the gift, but his father said he will know. He and his little sister, Birdie, live with their parents outside of town, and Henry is homeschooled. His best friend, James, spends a lot of time at their house. Henry loves rocks, so he is especially thrilled when he sees a meteor crash into a field by their house. But strange things happen. All the wells in town dry up, and a flood comes through the land washing their house away. Some in town seem to hold Henry and his family to blame for the water drying up, and someone attacks their home one night, badly injuring James. But Henry has an idea of how to help.

Betty Culley has written a rich, complex middle-grade story with lots of fun science embedded in the book. Every chapter starts with a quote from a scientific book or article that connects to Henry and the story. The writing is simply beautiful, the characters are all engaging and well-rounded, and the story is most compelling. This fascinating book will satisfy readers well beyond a middle-grade audience.

There won’t be a giveaway this week. I’ve already passed this one along. Please don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

16 thoughts on “Down to Earth — Review”

  1. Thanks for the GROG shout-out. And the helpful links – I keep telling my writing friends that you have waaaay more than book reviews over here. Down to Earth sounds awesome. And like, how did I even miss it? Need to grab that one from the library for sure.


  2. That sounds like an interesting book. I believe in dowsing. I remember when I was a kid we had one to help us figure out where to dig our well. And I love your thought for the day!


  3. I have never seen dowsing in any book. So her book sounds like a fascinating read for young people, with some science added! I did learn about dowsing from a farmer who used it on his land in NW Ohio. I was a young reporter and wrote a story about it. I am a firm believer because I saw that it worked. Also have seen it used to find powerful energy intersections beneath the earth — also intriguing. Thanks for sharing!


  4. Down to Earth sounds like a fascinating book! I’m not familiar with dowsing, so I looked it up, and it definitely sounds like an interesting practice to hear more about from stories like this one.

    Also, I love the meme and the gendered-noun humor, and the quote is quite an inspiring one as well! And I hopped over to Sue Heavenrich’s post because I know she’s an MMGM regular, and she actually recommends your blog as part of her post, so I love the reciprocity! Good luck finishing your classes, and thanks for the wonderful post, Rosi!


  5. I don’t know anything about dowsing and this story will certainly bring me up to date. The plot is unique and the characters sound appealing. Thanks for featuring on MMGM this week.
    The links were very helpful as usual. Loved Sue’s helpful list of writing helpers.


  6. Dowsing sounds intriguing and it seems the book may have foound a way to introduce this.
    Good luck in your class and thanks for the chuckles.


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