Saffy's Angelby Hilary McKay
After Saffron Casson discovers that she's adopted, life is never quite the same again. Her artistic parents and doting siblings adore her, but Saffy wants a piece of her past. So when her grandfather bequests a stone angel to her, Saffy knows she has to find it. Realising that her childhood in Siena holds the key, she secretly stows away on a car trip to Italy,
After Saffron Casson discovers that she's adopted, life is never quite the same again. Her artistic parents and doting siblings adore her, but Saffy wants a piece of her past. So when her grandfather bequests a stone angel to her, Saffy knows she has to find it. Realising that her childhood in Siena holds the key, she secretly stows away on a car trip to Italy, with her new friend, Sarah. Meanwhile, the rest of her family are engaged in their own wacky projects. Caddy, a hopeless student, is studying for her A Levels and desperately trying to pass her driving test. Indigo, the sole boy of the Casson family, is determined to rid himself of this fear of heights. And the youngest, Rose, a budding artist, has a knack for baiting her pompous dad, with entertaining results . . .
Winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award.
- Hachette Children's
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- 9 - 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
When Saffron was eight, and had at last learned to read, she hunted slowly through the color chart pinned up on the kitchen wall.
It was a painter's color chart, from an artists' materials shop. It showed all the colors a painter could ever need. There were rows and rows of little squares, each a different shade of red or blue or green or golden yellow. Every little square had the name of the color underneath. To the Casson children those names were as familiar as nursery rhymes. Other families had lullabies, but the Cassons had fallen asleep to lists of colors.
Saffron found Indigo almost at once, a smoky dark blue on the bottom row of the chart. Indigo was two years younger than Saffron. His name suited him exactly.
"If there is one thing your mother was good at," Bill Casson, the children's father, would say, "it was choosing names for you children!"
Eve, the children's mother, would always look pleased. She never protested that there might be more than one thing that she was good at, because she never thought there was.
Indigo was a thin, dark-haired little boy with anxious indigo-colored eyes. He had a list in his head of things that did not matter (such as school), and another list of things that did. High on Indigo's list of things that mattered was his pack. That was how he thought of his sisters. His pack.
Saffron was the middle one of the pack.
Saffron had to climb onto a stool to see the color chart properly. The stool had a top of woven string that was coming unwoven, and its legs rocked on the irregular tiles of the kitchen floor.
"I can't find me," she grumbled to Indigo, wobbling on the stool. "I can't find Saffron written anywhere."
"What about the rest of us?" asked Indigo, not looking up. "What about the baby?"
Indigo was crouched on the hearth rug, sorting through the coal bucket. Pieces of coal lay all around. Sometimes he found lumps speckled with what he believed to be gold. He looked like a small black devil in the shadowy room with the firelight behind him.
"Come and help me look for Saffron!" pleaded Saffron.
"Find the baby first," said Indigo.
Indigo did not like the baby to be left out of anything that was going on. This was because for a long time after she was born, it had seemed she would be left out of everything, and forever. She had very nearly eluded his pack. She had very nearly died. Now she was safe and easy to find, third row up at the end of the pinks. Rose. Permanent Rose.
Rose was screaming because the health visitor had arrived to look at her. She had turned up unexpectedly, from beyond the black, rainy windows, and picked up Rose with her strong, cold hands, and so Rose was screaming.
"Make Rose shut up!" shouted Saffron from her stool. "I'm trying to read!"
"Saffron reads anything now!" the children's mother told the health visitor proudly.
"Very nice!" the health visitor replied, and Saffron looked pleased for a moment, but then stopped when the health visitor added that both her twins had been fluent readers at four years old and had gone right through their elementary school library by the age of six.
Saffron glanced across to Caddy, the eldest of the Casson children, to see if this could possibly be true. Caddy, aged thirteen, was absorbed in painting the soles of her hamster's feet, but she felt Saffron's unhappiness and gave her a quick, comforting smile. Since Rose's arrival the Casson family had heard an awful lot about the health visitor's multitalented twins. They were in Caddy's class at school. There were a number of rude and true things that Caddy might have said about them, but being Caddy, she kept them to herself. Her smile was enough.
Caddy appeared over and over on the color chart, all along the top row. Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Deep Yellow, Cadmium Scarlet, and Cadmium Gold.
No Saffron, though.
"There isn't a Saffron," said Saffron after another long search. "I've looked, and there isn't! I've read it all, and there isn't!"
Nobody seemed to hear at first. Caddy continued painting her hamster's feet. The baby continued screaming. Eve continued explaining to the health visitor (who frightened her very much) that she had not noticed anything at all wrong with Rose until the health visitor pointed it out, and the health visitor continued tut-tutting.
"I can't find Saffron!" complained Saffron crossly.
Indigo said, "Saffron's yellow."
"I know Saffron's yellow!"
"Well then, look under the yellows," Indigo said, and tipped the whole of the coal bucket upside down on the hearth, enveloping his end of the room in a cloud of coal dust.
This made the health visitor start coughing as well as tutting.
"I don't know how you keep your patience!" she said to Eve. Her voice showed that she thought it would be much better if Eve did not. She had dropped in to weigh Rose, as she often did, and had noticed at once that the baby had gone a very strange color. A sort of brownish mustard. She seemed to think it was a terrible thing that Rose should have gone mustard without anybody noticing. She began undressing her.
"I've looked under all the yellows," said Saffron loudly and belligerently, "and I've looked under all the oranges too, and there isn't a Saffron!"
Rose wailed even louder because she didn't want to be undressed. Her mother said, "Oh, darling! Darling!" Indigo began hammering at likely-looking lumps of coal with the handle end of the poker. Caddy let the hamster walk across the table, and it made a delicate and beautiful pattern of rainbow-colored footprints all over the health visitor's notes.
"Why isn't there a Saffron?" demanded Saffron. "There's all the others. What about me?"
Then the health visitor said the thing that changed Saffron's life. She looked up from picking something out of Rose's clenched fist and said to the children's mother, "Doesn't Saffron know?"
The words fell into a moment of silence. Rose held her breath between roars. Caddy's head jerked up and her eyes were startled. Indigo stopped hammering. Eve went scarlet and looked very confused and began an unhappy mumble. A not-yet, not-now sort of mumble.
"Know what?" asked Saffron, looking from the health visitor to her mother.
"Nothing, dear," said the health visitor in a bright, careless voice, and Saffron, who was frightened without knowing why, allowed herself to believe this was true.
"Nothing, nothing!" repeated the health visitor, half singing the words, and then in a completely different voice, "Good heavens! What on earth is this?"
Rose's fist had come undone, revealing that she held a tube of paint (Yellow Ochre), obviously very much sucked.
"Paint!" said the health visitor, absolutely horrified. "Paint! PAINT! She's had a tube of paint! This household...I don't know! She's been sucking a tube of paint!"
"What color?" asked Indigo immediately.
"Yellow Ochre," Caddy told him. "I gave it to her. I didn't think she'd suck it. Anyway, I'm only using nontoxic colors."
"Caddy!" said her mother, laughing. "No wonder she's gone such a funny color!"
"I'm ringing the hospital!" said the health visitor in a voice of controlled calm. "Wrap her up in something warm! Don't give her anything to drink! We'll go straight to Emergency...."
Then for a while Saffron forgot her worries while they all tried to convince the health visitor that none of Caddy's colors were in the least poisonous, and that Rose, except for needing washing, was quite all right.
"But why did you give it to her?" the health visitor asked Caddy.
"To make her let go of the Chinese White," said Caddy.
"Chinese White's sweet," explained Saffron, and then there was another fuss. While it was going on, Indigo got bored and went back to his gold hunting, bashing a lump of coal so hard that pieces flew everywhere, and the baby got a chunk to suck, and the hamster jumped in fright into the health visitor's bag, and the health visitor said, "Thank goodness my twins...! If that hamster has made a mess...I suppose this is what they call artistic...."
"Yes," said Eve eagerly. "They are all very "
"You need the patience of a saint in my job!" said the health visitor as she left.
After she had gone, the children's mother hunted through the kitchen cupboards looking for something for supper. While she was doing it, she cried a bit because it was so hard being an artist with four children to look after, especially in wet weather, when rain blew under the kitchen door and down all the chimneys and into the hood of the car so that it would not start and she could not get to the supermarket. She thought wistfully of the shed at the end of the garden, her favorite place in the world.
Only Rose noticed she was crying. Rose watched her with unsurprised blue eyes, enjoying the sniffs.
The kitchen cupboard was full of nonfood sorts of food. Lentils and cereal and packaged sauces and jam. Eve had almost given up hope when she unearthed a large and completely unexpected can of baked beans, the sort with sausages in it, a small miracle.
"Daddy must have bought them!" she exclaimed, as happy as she had been miserable a moment before.
The beans changed everything. Saffron took over the toaster. Caddy put the hamster into its cage and cleared the table. Indigo picked up his lumps of coal. Permanent Rose sucked a crust of bread and smiled at everyone and waited patiently until someone should think of scrambling her an egg. Eve stirred the beans and sausages and was grateful to the children's father. He was a real artist, not a garden-shed one like herself. He was such a very real artist that he could work only in London. He rented a small studio at enormous expense and came home only on weekends. Real artists, he often explained to Caddy and Saffron and Indigo, cannot work with three children under their feet and a baby that wakes up several times every night.
"Clever, clever Daddy, buying beans!" said Eve.
"Rose could have an egg," suggested Caddy, reading Rose's mind.
"I wonder if Dad bought anything else," said Indigo, and he and Saffron at once began searching the kitchen cupboards themselves, hoping for more surprises. A lump of coal turned up, with a glitter of gold on it, and a bag of squashed pink and white marshmallows, which they floated on hot chocolate and shared with Rose from the end of a spoon. It was a very happy evening and bedtime before Saffron asked again, "Why isn't my name on the color chart? Why isn't there a Saffron?"
"Saffron is a lovely color," said her mother evasively.
"But it's not on the chart."
"The others are."
"But not me."
"I thought of calling you Siena. Or Scarlet."
"Why didn't you?"
There was a long, long pause.
"It wasn't me who chose your name."
"No. Not Daddy. My sister."
"Your sister who died?"
"Yes. Go to sleep, Saffy. Rose is crying. I've got to go."
"Siena," whispered Saffy.
Saffy had a dream that came over and over. In the dream was a white paved place with walls. A sunny place, quiet and enclosed. There were little dark, pointed trees and there was the sound of water. The blue sky was too bright to look at. In the dream something was lost. In the dream Saffy cried. In the dream was the word, Siena.
Caddy's bed was close enough to touch. Saffy could tell by the feel of the darkness that Caddy was awake. She said, "Caddy, how long ago can you remember?"
"Oh," said Caddy, "ages. I can remember when I could only lie flat. On my back. I can remember how pleased I was when I learned to roll over."
"I can. And I remember learning to crawl. It hurt my knees."
"No one can remember that far back!"
"Well, I can. I remember it quite clearly. The burny feeling it gave my knees."
"Do you remember a white stone garden?"
"What white stone garden?"
"No," said Caddy. "That was you, not me."
The next morning Indigo gave Saffron his gold-speckled lump of coal, and Cadmium added an extra color square to the top row of the paint chart, Saffron Yellow. In London, Bill Casson shut up his small (and very expensive) studio midweek and caught the first train home.
None of these things meant anything at all to Saffron. All she could think of was the terrible news that she had forced from Eve the night before. Bit by bit, while Rose slept and Indigo argued and Caddy watched and was silent, Saffron had dragged it out.
That was how she discovered that Eve was not her mother. Nor was a real (and nearly successful) artist in London her father. Worst of all, Caddy and Indigo and Rose were not her brother and sisters.
"You're not my family," said Saffron.
"We are!" cried Eve. "Of course we are! We adopted you! We wanted you! Your mother was my sister! Caddy and Indigo and Rose are your cousins!"
"That doesn't count," said Saffron.
"I'm not doing this right," said Eve, weeping. "There are books on how to do it right. I have read them. You were only three. You looked just like Caddy. You called me Mummy.
You were so happy. Almost as soon as you arrived, you were happy!"
"Why was it a secret?"
"It wasn't a secret!" protested Eve, trying to hug Saffron (who ducked). "I was waiting for the right time to tell you, that's all. And the longer I left it, the harder it was. I should have done it right at the start!"
"Caddy knew! And didn't tell me!"
"I forgot," said Caddy.
"No wonder I'm not on the color chart," said Saffron.
Everything seemed to change for Saffron after the day she deciphered the color chart and discovered that her name was not there and found out why this was. She never felt the same again. She felt lost.
"But everything is just the same," said Bill, trying to help. "Nothing has changed, Saffy darling. We love you just as much as we ever did. You are just as much ours as you always were."
"No, I'm not," said Saffy.
Eve produced photographs of Saffy's mother, but they were very confusing. Saffron's mother had been Eve's twin sister. They were so alike that even Eve had to puzzle over some of the pictures before she could say who was who.
"What about my father?" Saffron asked.
This was a difficult question. Saffron's mother had never told Eve anything about Saffron's father.
"Your mummy never talked about him," she said at last.
"Not even to you?"
"Well," said Eve, sighing as she remembered. "She was in Italy and I was in England. So it was difficult. I was always going to go and visit her, and I never quite did. I wish I had."
"Was she an artist? Like you."
"Oh, no," said Eve. "Linda was much cleverer than me! She taught English. In Italy. In Siena. You were born in Siena, that's why I thought it would make such a good name...."
Saffron was not listening. She looked at the picture of her mother again and said, "Anyway, she's dead."
"Killed in a car crash."
"Where was I? Did I see her dead?"
"No," said Eve with relief. "You were at home. At your home in Siena. With Grandad. He was visiting."
"Yes. He was there when it happened. He brought you back here to us."
"Yes, Grandad did. He wasn't always like he is now, Saffy darling."
The Casson children's grandfather was like nothing at all. He lived in a nursing home. He sat. Sometimes in summer he sat in the garden, guided there with a nurse at each side. Sometimes he sat in a lounge and looked at a television set that was not always switched on. Often Eve would collect him and bring him back home with her, and he would sit there instead.
Only once, in all his years of sitting, had he said a word to show that he remembered anything at all of his previous life. He had said, "Saffron."
Everyone had heard.
"Is Grandad still my grandad?" Saffron asked Eve, when it seemed that the whole pattern of her family was slipping and changing, like colors in water, into something she hardly recognized.
Eve said that of course he was. Just as he had always been. Exactly the same.
"But was he my grandad right from the beginning?" persisted Saffron, determined to have the truth this time. "Like he was Caddy's and Indigo's and Rose's?"
"Yes," said Eve at once, and Caddy added, "He is just as much your grandad as ours, Saffy. More."
"More?" asked Saffron suspiciously.
"Much more," said Caddy, "because he remembers you. He knows your name. Everybody heard. He said, 'Saffron.'"
"Yes, he did," Saffron agreed, and allowed herself to feel a tiny bit comforted.
Caddy was the only one of the Casson children who could recall the days when their grandfather could drive and walk and talk and do things like anybody else. She told Saffron about the evening when he had arrived at the house, bringing Saffron home.
"He had a green car. A big green car and it was full of toys. He'd brought all your toys, he told us. Every crayon. Every scrap of paper. You used to pick up stones, he said. Little bits of stone. He brought them all. In a can."
Nothing was ever thrown away in the Casson family. Saffron went upstairs to the bedroom she shared with Caddy and Rose and raked around until she found the scratched blue coffee can. The stones were still there, bits of gold sandstone, marble chips, and a fragment of a red roof tile.
"Grandad said, 'She's cried all the way. Not for her mother. For something else. I should have managed to bring it somehow. I promised I would. I shall have to go back.'"
"What was he talking about?"
"I don't know. He went away that same night. We didn't see him again for ages and ages, and when we did, he was different."
"What sort of different?"
"Like he is now," said Caddy.
Copyright © 2001 by Hilary McKay
Meet the Author
Hilary McKay won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize with her first novel, The Exiles. Her subsequent work has achieved recognition: The Exiles at Home won the Smarties Prize, whilst Saffy's Angel, the first in the Casson Family series, won the Whitbread Award, for which the third book, Permanent Rose, was also shortlisted.
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This book is about an artistic family. Saffron has lived her life, thinking that her older sister was Cadium Gold, her younger siblings were Indigo and Permanent Rose, her father was Bill, and her mother was Eve. Things get flip-flopped for Saffron (Saffy as a nickname) when she finds about the truth about her grandfather and mother. This book is mysterious and the start to a great series! The books I recommended are the rest of the series- *Indigo's Star *Permanent Rose *Caddy Ever After *Forever Rose The series tells all about Saffy and her family. Another book I recommended is "Sand Dollar Summer", because it is about a young girl who has family conflicts, and goes on adventures, just like Saffy.
Saffy's Angel was a great book. When eight-year-old Saffron Casson began to read, the first thing she realized was that her name wasn't on the paint chart. All the other children in the family were named by their mother and artist, Eve. The names were all chosen from the paint chart on the wall- Caddy (Cadium Gold), Indigo, and Rose. Soon, the secret slips out and Saffy realizes that she is adopted. Saffy's world becomes upside-down, Caddy, Indigo, and Rose were not her siblings- they were her cousins, Eve and Bill were not her parents but her aunt and uncle. When Grandad dies, he leaves a will. He gives Caddy his house (now nearly falling off a cliff), Indigo his car, and Rose is remaining money. 'For Saffron. Her angel in the garden. The stone angel.' Saffron longs for her angel, so her rich friend, Sarah takes a trip to Siena, Italy- Saffy's birthplace, with Saffy in search of the angel. This book is an amazing novel that I read three times. It is defintely a page-turner.
If you havn't read Saffy's Angel, then I think you should, I thought it was very interesting.It was so interesting that I couldn't put the book down. In Saffy's Angel,the characters are really funny! They all have dfferent moods, and it makes the book really good. The title, Saffy's Angel, is the perfect title for this book. The title goes exactly with it and it made me want to keep on reading the book becuase it caught my attention. The author, Hilary McKay, completed the goal that every author wants. In the beginning, it was boring, trust me, but while I kept reading, it was really exciting! Expecially when Saffy found her angel,but it was broken. Then Caddy fixed it and repainted it. She made it look brand new. What the author did, was make you want to keep on reading. Also while I read, I had alot of connections. Some connections I had while I read were real world connections, literature and media connections, and experiences. The problem, Saffy was looking for her angel that her grandfather left in his will, but couldn't find it,went throughout most of the book and that makes it even better. This book was so good, that when I read it, I could see the pictures in my head! If you never read the book, hurry and stop reading this because the book is so good! Have fun reading!
The fictional novel Saffy's Angel written by Hilary McKay is a sad and captivating story that takes place in England. The story begins when the main character, Saffy finds out she was adopted by her artistic aunt, uncle, and cousins named Cadmium, Rose, and Indigo. She figures out her parents died in a car crash and her loving grandfather took her all the way from Siena, Italy to her new home named The Banana House. Later on in the novel Saffy's grandfather dies and leaves a will listing one thing for each child. Her grandfather leaves her something called Saffy's Angel. Saffy meets a new friend named Sarah who cries her way into anything and helps Saffy find her angel. After a little thinking Saffy remembers that her stone angel is in the garden in Siena where she used to live. For the sake of helping a friend, Sarah convinces her parents to take her to Siena. Sarah, her parents, and Saffy hiding under a beanbag and luggage drives to Siena. They discover in Siena that Saffy's grandfather brought it back a long time ago. When Saffy's cousins hear the news they are determined to find the angel. Saffy's youngest cousin thinks he knows where it is, determination leads the three siblings to uncover something amazing. Hilary McKay has a creative writing style. One thing I noticed about Hilary McKay's writing style is that occasionally she'll have short sentences but the rest of the time she'll write the perfect length. .I also noticed that she used third person writing style. For example Hilary wrote: All the Casson children were named after colors on the paint chart. I could tell she used third person because throughout the novel she used the characters names, she never used the words I, mine, or any words having to do with yourself. The last thing I noticed is how she used all five senses to describe something. For example on page 12 it says: The Casson House had been chosen by the parents before Caddy was born. They had liked it because it was unspoiled. Unspoiled meant no central heating, coal fires in every room, and its old particular smell, which was a mixture of dampness, soot and a sort of green smell that came in from the garden. The garden always seemed to be creeping into the house. Ivy crept in through the windowpanes. Wood lice and beetles and ants had their own private entrances. Hilary McKay's writing style is creative different from other author's writing. I would recommend the book Saffy's Angel to girls because it doesn't involve any action and it isn't about anything dangerous or scary. I would also recommend this book for 9 year olds to 12 year olds because it would to challenging for kids younger than 7 and to easy for 13 year olds and higher. Lastly I would recommend this book for people who like a bit of adventure and mystery because this book is about the search for a stone angel. The characters have to find where the angel is and put together clues to find it. Some similar novels to Saffy's Angel are the books Caddy Ever After, Permanent Rose, Indigo's Star, and Forever Rose. They are similar because they are all part of the series, are written by the same author, and include the same the same character are written by the same author, and include the same characters. Saffy's Angel had many positives and negatives. My first positive on this book was how the author got right into the story, she didn't drag on. Within the first few pages of the book the main idea had begun.
This book teaches you that even if your name isn't on the color chart you still fit in, find friends and maybe even a new love.
This is a really great book.Saffy's grandfather dies and leaves something for each child. For Caddy,his property, for Indigo, his car, for Rose his money, and for Saffy, her angel.Saffy meets a girl named Sarah and has a special friendship. WHEN YOU READ THIS YOU MIGHT HAVE A SPECIAL FEELING.Now it's your turn. Just read the book!!!!!!!!!!!!
After 13 year-old Saffy finds out that she is adopted and her Grandfather dies she is out to find what her Angel is (an angel that her Grandfather said she had in his will) Her family thinks it is just a stone angel made of rock or clay but nothing important. Saffy knows it is real and she wont give up. This book teaches alot of lessons, my most favorite one though is to never give up, no matter how many people aren't on your side.This is a great book and I am loving reading it(im sure my book report on this book for school is going to be great!) This is a great book for 10 year olds to 110 year olds . YOU SHOULD DEFINATELY READ IT !
I absolutley love this book! It teaches you to never give up. I loved the whole storyline and the idea of the names. It was a great book and I encourage you to read this book if you are looking for an exciting adventure!
This story is about the Casson family, mainly focusing on the four children: Cadmium (Caddy), Saffron (Saffy), Indigo, and Rose, who are all named after colors, with the exception of Saffy who is really their adopted cousin. Saffy is the Italian-born daughter of Eve¿s (the mother), twin sister. Her mother died when she was only 3 and was brought to England to live with her cousins. The family is very eccentric with both Eve and the father (Bill), who lives in London, being artists. After the children's grandfather dies, they are all left gifts ¿ Caddy gets his cottage, Indigo gets his car, and Rose gets his left over cash. "For Saffron. Her angel in the garden. The stone angel." The children spend their days very imaginatively and go on wild adventures to retrieve Saffy's angel. The story involves a different family structure where adoption is present and where the father lives away from the home. All that is good because in this day and age, many families are drastically different from the ¿ideal¿ nuclear family in the 1950s. This book is good for late elementary school children, but girls will be more likely to be drawn to it than boys. In addition, all the characters in this story came alive, the dialogue was often very humorous, and there were so many adventures that I found it difficult to put the book down.