Binny for Short

by Hilary McKay and Micah Player

With money tight after her father's death, Binny and her family moved to a smaller... read more

With money tight after her father's death, Binny and her family moved to a smaller flat. Binny's beloved dog, Max, was farmed out to stay with Granny until prickly Great Aunt Violet gave the dog away. Aunt Violet becomes the target of Binny's intense and focused hatred. In fact, Binny tells Aunt Violet that she hopes she'll die. Remarkably, Aunt Violet does, bequeathing a small seaside cottage to Binny. The cottage and village are a much better situation for Binny's family, but Binny struggles with guilt over her death-wish for Aunt Violet. She's also obsessed with trying to track down Max, who is the focus of all her feelings of loss. Gareth, an unhappy next-door neighbor visiting his dad and stepmom, helps to distract Binny despite frequent clashes between them. A framing story involves Binny and Gareth trapped on a rock in the sea with a fast-rising tide. It progresses in short italicized sections throughout the book, with the situation growing increasingly tense. In between, the narrative gradually fills in details about the family's adjustment to life in the village, with Binny's young brother James (who wants to raise chickens and grow poisonous lettuce) and big sister Clem adding comic relief, and additional pathos as they, too, struggle with grief and loss. A novel that is quintessentially Hilary McKay features a quirky yet lovable family of distinctive individuals who make it through a difficult time with love and humor. (Ages 9-12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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