Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Abandoned as an infant, Jip West accepts his grim fate on a Vermont poor farm without question until a series of disturbing events changes his beliefs about himself and the people around him. The turning point occurs when, in the year 1855, Jip (who has a gift for "handling beasts and residents") becomes caretaker of a lunatic brought to the farm. The boy's growing friendship with the mysterious, moody man called Put coincides with Jip's discovery that his mother was a runaway slave. Tension mounts when Jip's biological father, the master of a Southern plantation, arrives to retrieve his "property." Like Paterson's Newbery-winning Bridge to Terabithia and Jacob Have I Loved, this historically accurate story is full of revelations and surprises, one of which is the return appearance of the heroine of Lyddie. While Jip's concerns provide insight into 19th-century society, his yearnings for freedom and knowledge are timeless. The taut, extremely readable narrative and its tender depictions of friendship and loyalty provide first-rate entertainment. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Jip received his name from having fallen off a gypsy wagon as a toddler and has grown up at the town poor farm. Despite the cruelty and the bareness of his life, Jip is happy with his lot, though he wonders often about those who deserted him. Once Jip begins to attend school, a string of mysteries begins to unfold and he discovers he is the son of an escaping slave woman and a white master. Suddenly, he is a victim of prejudice and must escape the slave catchers. Paterson's lyricism and imagery give dramatic expression to Jip and his mid-19th century world. Her fans will be pleased when Jip's resourceful teacher, whom he describes as "like a queen-no fancy dress or crown, but surely in command," turns out to be Lyddie, the heroine of a previous Paterson novel.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Anything by Katherine Paterson is a pleasure to read. Jip, the story of an orphan, "poor farm" boy in the Vermont of the 1850's, is no exception. Jip has a way with animals and is just as compassionate with human creatures. The highlight of the book is his friendship with the lunatic, Put, who comes to stay in a cage Jip has lovingly built. Halfway through, however, the plot veers unsuspectingly into the realm of Underground Railroad stories. Although this makes for a more exciting climax, Jip's surprising lineage is a tad implausible.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
"My life began the afternoon of June 7, 1847, when I tumbled off the back of a wagon on the West Hill Road and no one came to look for me... Maybe I should say the life I know now began nearly 8 years later - when overseer Flint brought the lunatic to the Town poor farm." So begins the story of Jip, a boy with a keen sense of compassion for others and yet, a boy who wonders what mother would abandon a small child and not return to find him. Wary of the stranger in town who asks Jip personal questions, the boy doesn't have a clue as to his heritage. Stunned by the news that his mother was a slave, Jip knows he must leave Vermont at once. The risks his true friends are willing to make for him strengthen his resolve to reach Canada. Paterson is a master storyteller.
The ALAN Review - Diana Mitchell
Jip, a young boy who lives on the town poor farm in Vermont in the 1850s, works hard, loves to take care of the animals, and expects little from life. After all, what can a child expect who fell from a moving wagon and never was claimed? As Jip and the lunatic, Put, become fast friends, a stranger begins to lurk around the town asking questions about Jip's background. In a rush of events, Jip finds himself pursued and in danger, finds out about his background, and finds out how many people really care about him. In this moving story about outcasts and acceptance, readers come face to face with the realities of the fugitive slave law and the treatment of the poor and insane. Readers of Paterson's Lyddie will be happy to know that Lyddie is one of the characters in this thoughful, compelling book.
VOYA - Judith A. Sheriff
In this companion novel to Lyddie (Dutton, 1991), Paterson paints a revealing portrait of poverty, prejudice, and love which may seem astonishing to today's young readers. After being left alone on a Vermont road in 1847 when he was a small child, Jip ("Gypsy") is sent to live on the town's poor farm. His knack with "pets" ultimately puts him in charge not only of the farm animals but of Put, an elderly "lunatic" who must spend much of his time in a cage because of the rages which periodically consume him. Although previously content on the farm, Jip begins to envision other worlds when he has the opportunity to attend school and is befriended by Teacher and her Quaker boyfriend. When a stranger begins to watch him, Jip is torn between dreaming of rediscovering his original family and his uneasiness about the stranger's demeanor. Subsequent revelations about Jip's birth and abandonment are surprising, but absolutely logical and frightening in the context of the story. Jip is a compassionate hero to be cried over, feared for, and cheered on. What could be better to read aloud or booktalk? VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9Paterson's companion novel to Lyddie (Lodestar, 1991) rewards readers with memorable characters and a gripping plot. Jip has been told that he tumbled off the back of a wagon when he was a toddler in 1847. He has been raised on a poor farm in a Vermont town, where he is an indispensable asset to the lazy manager and his equally lazy wife. The boy befriends the newly arrived "lunatic" Put, who is kept imprisoned in a cage because he is subject to violent, self-destructive episodes. Jip's life is quietly circumscribed-until a stranger plants the idea that his father might be searching for him. Although he has long fantasized that a loving parent awaits him, he sees the stranger as an unlikely messenger. His instincts prove correct when the man is revealed to be a slave catcher. Then Jip learns the truth about his past: his mother was a runaway slave. With the help of his teacher, Lyddie Worthen, and her sweetheart, Quaker neighbor Luke Stevens, Jip escapes to Canada, where he is welcomed as a free man into the home of a former slave whom Lyddie helped shelter in the earlier book. Paterson's story resonates with respect for the Vermont landscape and its mid-19th-century residents, with the drama of life during a dark period in our nation's history, and with the human quest for freedom. Fans of the previous book will relish meeting up with Lyddie and Luke again at a somewhat later period in their lives. Readers will be talking and thinking about this book long after they finish the last chapter.Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR