CYBILS REVIEW: Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff
ABOUT THE BOOK
It's 1944, W.W. II is raging. Jayna's big brother Rob is her only family. When Rob is called to duty on a destroyer, Jayna is left in their small town in upstate New York with their cranky landlady. But right before he leaves, Rob tells Jayna a secret: they may have a grandmother in Brooklyn. Rob found a little blue recipe book with her name and an address for a bakery. When Jayna learns that Rob is missing in action, she's devastated. Along with her turtle Theresa, the recipe book, and an encouraging, ghostly voice as her guide, Jayna sets out for Brooklyn in hopes of finding the family she so desperately needs.
I quite enjoyed this story, especially the relationship between Jayna and her brother, even though we only see them together briefly. It's a short read so there isn't a ton of detail, but enough to give a sense of time and place.
Strengths: Jayna is a strong, likable character with a difficult set of circumstances to face, which she does with courage and aplomb. The secondary characters are appealing as well with Andrew and Millie befriending Jayna and Elise offering grandmotherly care. The book shows how the war effected those on the homefront in terms of rationing and worrying about loved ones.
Weaknesses: I found the ghost voice a rather odd addition to the story, especially since there is no real explanation for who it is or where it came from. Most kids will accept the ghost on faith, but I would have liked more information. Also, this is historical fiction which a lot of kids won't pick up.