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1 May 2024 FERRIS by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick, March 2024, 240p., ISBN: 978-1-5362-3105-2


“Ferris thought that the world didn’t make much sense, no matter how many words you knew.”

‘It passeth understanding, thought Ferris. It passeth all understanding.


“It's such a lonely, lonely, lonely world

People turn their heads and walk on by

Tell me, is it worth just another try?

Light of the world, shine on me

Love is the answer (let it shine)

Shine on us all, set us free

Love is the answer”

– Todd Rundgren (1977)


“It was the summer before Emma Phineas Wilkey (who everyone called Ferris) went into the fifth grade.

It was the summer that the ghost appeared to Charisse, the summer that Ferris’s sister, Pinky Wilkey, devoted herself to becoming an outlaw, and the summer that Uncle Ted left Aunt Shirley and moved into the Wilkey basement to paint a history of the world.

It was the summer that Ferris’s best friend, Billy Jackson, played a song called ‘Mysterious Barricades’ over and over again on the piano.”


With the release of FERRIS, Kate DiCamillo once again rocks the children’s lit world with a moving, mustn’t-miss-it yarn that features a colorful cast of interconnected characters. They include a dog named Boomer, as well as Pinky, a scene-stealing little sister who had me – the firstborn – rather curious to know about Kate’s own family history and sibling birth order: 


“Pinky was six years old, and even though Ferris was her older sister, she did not understand Pinky on a cellular level.

Pinky was a fearsome mystery.


“Pinky laughed loudly… ‘I think I’m going to rob a bank,’ she said. ‘That’s probably the quickest way to become an outlaw.’

It turned out Pinky was serious.

It turned out to be a serious time, in general, in Ferris’s world.”


FERRIS also features a grand 40-candle chandelier that has never been lit; comedic plagues of moths, bees, and raccoons; and periodic ghost sightings that have us fearing the worst about the future of Ferris’s beloved grandmother Charisse, who is at the hub of Ferris’s zany three-generation household. 


A particularly-intriguing character, whose reputation precedes her appearance, is Mrs. Mielk, the teacher who was responsible for Ferris and Billy Jackson’s rich stockpile of vocabulary words–a wealth of tasty terms that Ferris routinely defines for readers.


And then there is Billy, who is gifted and a total sweetie. We hear him playing that same tune over and over and over again on the pianos at his father’s steakhouse and at Ferris’s house. But readers who are paying attention will note that Billy can and sometimes does actually pick up and play other tunes–by ear!


FERRIS features dramatic, emotional scenes that, together, merrily steer readers to a climax in which this idiosyncratic cast comes together in a grand spectacle that had me recalling the stateroom scene in the Marx Brothers’ “Night at the Opera.”


Ferris had me both rolling in the aisle, and sometimes sobbing. I can’t wait to gather up my grandkid audience and read this one again.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.pbworks.com





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