Friday, December 21, 2012

Eliza's Journal by Caelyn AB Williams, illustrated by Kati Green

Eliza isn't really happy about being sent to live with her aunt and uncle on Orcas Island, WA, for the summer. She'd rather be anywhere else - art camp, Florida with her parents, or just hanging around. She's so bored that she even starts writing a journal. Then she meets the Tanners, Charlie and his dad, and gets a job drawing their strange geology artifacts. Uncle Pat is wary and doesn't like her hanging out with Charlie; there's something strange about the Tanners. But Eliza loves her job and maybe even Charlie. Eventually, she realizes her uncle is right - there is something very strange about the Tanners.

Craigmore Creations is a small, niche press that publishes books about geology and natural history. I requested a review copy of this title, even though I don't normally review teen fiction, because I was intrigued by the delicate drawings of Kati Green and I happen to be very interested in the Puget Sound area.

Warning: Here Be Spoilers.

The art was interesting and I really enjoyed the extra dimension it brought to the story. The story itself is not going to be for everyone - most teens won't be interested. It moves very slowly and the story unfolds at a leisurely pace. Although Eliza's story is meant to be contemporary (she mentions an ipod in the first chapter) her voice in the journal entries doesn't really sound like the average contemporary teen and the text is awkward and clunky in places. She also uses weird word choices like "retiring" instead of going to bed. There are some mild swears, "damn" and "hell" but they feel more like they were put in to show that she was a real, contemporary teen than actually part of her personality. The big reveal - the Tanners are time travelers - seems to have just been thrown in casually and after a little surprise, Eliza pretty much says "ok, can I draw more fossils now?"

Verdict: That being said, some teens will enjoy this story. It's different and the art is intriguing. Eliza's awkward journey will resonate with kids who feel out of place with their peers and have specialized interests. I wouldn't hand this to the average teen or add it to a library like mine, with space issues where every book has to pull its own weight, but for a larger library or as a present for a special teen, it would be a success.

ISBN: 9780984442256; Published October 2012 by Craigmore Creations; Review copy provided by the publisher; Put aside for winter reading program prize for the teens.

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