Monday, January 16, 2012

The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell ****

The Secret of Zoom is another Mark Twain Award nominee, and though it's pretty fantastical in nature, I liked it! 
Christina lost her mother in an explosion back when she was just a baby, so she lives with her scientist father in an eccentric mansion that she's never allowed to leave.  She watches the kids from the nearby orphanage pick up garbage and live what looks like a miserable existance until she finally meets one, a boy named Taft, who asks her if she's found the secret tunnel.  This sends Christina on a search of the house, the eventual finding of the tunnel, and an amazing adventure.  Her whole life becomes questions:  what is Zoom?  Where do they take the orphans?  Why does the evil head of Loompski Industries value children with perfect pitch?  And is her mother really gone forever?
I couldn't put this book down and I can truely say the action never stopped.  But if you've read my blog before this then you know my schtick is I'm ultra-aware of characters that have developemental disabilities.  Before my son was born I never would notice this, but it seems like every book I read has at least some mention about the differently abled, if not a major character.  The Secret of Zoom is no exception.
I can say that I think Lynne Jonell wrote the character of Danny with accuracy and grace.  I know some would say he's been steriotyped, but I can see my own son reacting in the same ways to extreme stress and abuse.  And I'm thankful Ms. Jonell had her other characters treat him with compassion and care.  At one point Christina has to try to rescue Danny from out of the inside of a garbage truck, but at the same time she may be sacrificing the rest of the orphans she's trying to save.  What worth is Danny's life?
What if she did save ninety-nine orphans while leaving Danny in the garbage?  Could she really pretend to be a hero?  Could she even look Taft in the eye, knowing she had done that?
Christina bowed her head.  Ninety-nine wasn't going to be good enough.  It had to be one hundred.  And it had to be now.
Having read only two of the MTA nominees so far I can say that this book is my favorite.  We shall see if that changes or not!

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