At the start of this story, a girl learns that she is actually the Italian-born daughter of her supposed mother's twin sister, who died in a car crash when she was three. When her grandfather also dies and leaves her the statue of an angel, her search for it leads to more than one discovery. In a boxed review, PW called this "a memorable portrait of a vastly human family." Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Living at the Banana House, the name of the house that Saffron and her siblings live in, is a child's dream. Their artist father is in London during the week and their artist mother is positive that the children know more about raising children than she does so she lets them run the house. Still, it is a house built on love and on family. One day, while reading the color chart that her siblings' names were taken from (sisters Cadmium and Rose and brother Indigo,) she realizes that Saffron is not on the chart and she is told that she was adopted. When her grandfather dies and leaves property and money to her siblings but leaves for Saffy "her angel in the garden," Saffron sets out to find out what happened to her mother and where her angel is. The book is half fairy tale and half dramatic novel. While the story is, at times, unbelievable, the reader becomes caught up in the lyrical style of the author and in the perseverance of Saffron. 2002, Margret K McElderberry Books/Simon and Schuster,
Longing suffuses the pages of Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay. Saffron is part of a loving, artistic, scruffy, big-hearted English family, but she can't seem to settle in and feel that she belongs. Her discovery that she was adopted—that she is, in fact, niece and not daughter, to Eve—changed everything for her. The deep, lost feelings eventually find a focus in a scrap from her grandfather's will: "For Saffron. Her angel in the garden." When Sarah, who lives down the street, happens to accidentally send her wheelchair crashing into Saffy, the girl becomes Saffy's first proper friend. And Sarah becomes—if possible—even more obsessed than Saffy, herself, with the angel. As they talk, Saffy remembers that the angel is real and made of stone; that it stood in the garden of the house in Italy where she lived before her mother died in a car crash. The two girls set out on a rollicking adventure, determined to hunt it down. Although nothing about the hunt goes as expected, they do ultimately find the angel. Broken. After all that trouble, Saffy thinks, melancholy again. Still, there is "too much going on at the Banana House for anyone to be sad very often." Part of the delight of reading any McKay book is the wry, understated humor. Another part is getting to know the people in them, in this case, Saffy's idiosyncratic family. They don't exactly seem real—a reader might go a whole lifetime and never meet a Saffy, a Cadmium, an Indigo, a Rose, an Eve, or anyone else from the pages of this book. But McKay's characters are fascinating in the same way that a particularly apt metaphor can feel at the same time surprising and somewhat unlikely, yet amazingly and deeply true. In the end, Saffy's Angelis a story about the warmth to be found right in the middle of the messiness and scruffiness of family life, even in families where one doesn't always feel orderly or cozy or even safe. 2002, Margaret McElderry,
Gr 4-6-The Casson family is an endearingly eccentric bunch. Big sister Cadmium, an appallingly bad driver even after hundreds of lessons with an attractive instructor, is studying for her college entrance exams. Saffron, 13, isolates herself from the family after learning that she is actually an adopted cousin whose mother died when Saffy was very young. Indigo works hard to defeat his fears through most unusual means. Rose, the youngest, is an expert at manipulating their pompous father and delightfully ditsy mum, both artists. When their granddad dies, he leaves Saffy a stone angel, which she decides must still be in Italy, her birthplace. With the help of her wheelchair-mobile friend, Sarah Warbeck, who is wickedly adept at managing her parents, Saffy stows away on their family trip to Italy. Although the angel is not there, she learns to appreciate her own family and home. Meanwhile, her siblings set off on a comical car trip to Wales, where the statue is found. Rose provides much of the humor on this trip, with her funny messages to the irritated drivers stuck behind hapless Caddy's car. These charming characters never respond to events in ways one might expect, leading readers to anticipate the whimsical situations. Although humor is predominant, several characters experience significant growth. Delicious phrasing and a wonderfully descriptive style add further to the sense of British eccentricity, reminiscent of Helen Cresswell's "Bagthorpe Saga" (Atheneum; o.p.). This family's story, in which every activity becomes an artistic expression, will surely fly off the shelves.-B. Allison Gray, South Country Library, Bellport, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
When Saffron is eight, she finds out that she was adopted at age three, after her mother-her adoptive mother's sister-died in a car accident in Italy. For the next five years, she feels isolated despite her loving, sympathetic mother and siblings. Now 13, she learns that she has inherited a stone angel from her beloved grandfather and, since no one knows where it is, resolves to find it. With the help of her new friend Sarah and Sarah's parents, Saffron travels to Italy to seek her angel and returns more content. Although the focus is on Saffron's inner and outer journeys, the most vivid character turns out to be, not Saffron, but Rose, her shrewd, determined younger sister. Some very funny scenes revolve around Rose and her singular approach to life. Humor also springs from the eccentricities of the other family members, each of whom doggedly pursues interests, from painting to preparing for future polar expeditions. The secondary characters of Sarah and her parents stand out as unpredictable and engaging, making the trip to Italy the high point of the story. While not as distinctive as The Exiles and Dog Friday, this is nevertheless an enjoyable outing characterized by a spirit of warmth and humor. (Fiction. 9-13)