Protecting Marie

by Kevin Henkes

"If you want everything to be perfect, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment,"... read more

"If you want everything to be perfect, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment," Fanny's father, Henry, tells his 12-year-old daughter. An only child, Fanny wants the December holidays to be the same every year: same cookies, same decorations, same reading of "The Snow Queen." Within their loving family, Fanny's sense of happiness differs from that of her artist father. Henry paints vessels he imagines as empty, while she imagines what is in each one. Fanny's mother, Ellen, is unfazed by these differing life views. "Scratch the surface of anyone," she says, "and you are bound to find complexities." Protecting Marie contains complex adult characters, but it is always Fanny's story. Readers will easily follow Fanny's desire for a dog, getting one, losing it through Henry's impatience, getting another dog and worrying about how it will get along. Long ago, Fanny learned to hide her hand-crafted paper figure named Marie whenever Henry helped her tidy her room according to his standards. Readers will understand the lack of power that goes along with being young. When they re-read Protecting Marie , and they will, they can relax from the mounting suspense of the first reading and begin to enjoy Fanny's developing friendship with Timothy. Some will be able to discover the Madison, Wisconsin, sites where the plot unfolds. Others might notice repeated references to the color red, images of winter and ice, and triangular shapes and begin wondering about their meanings. The book ends with the line, "The options were limitless." They are - for Fanny and Timothy, for Henry and Ellen, and for the readers of this splendid novel. Honor Book: 1995 CCBC Newbery Award Discussion (Ages 10-12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1995

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