Plot summary: Every member of the Beaumont family receives a supernatural power, or “savvy,” on their thirteenth birthday. Mississippi, or Mibs, Beaumont is about to turn thirteen and can’t wait to discover what her savvy will be. Her older brother, Fish, can create storms and the eldest child in the family, Rocket, can control electricity. Her mother, Momma, can do everything perfectly. Mibs is anticipating the arrival of her savvy, but two days before her birthday, her father is seriously injured in a car accident. Momma must leave the Beaumont children to tend to their father, who is in a coma in a hospital in Salina. Mrs. Beaumont leaves Mibs and her siblings, which also include younger brother Samson and younger sister Gypsy, with Miss Rosemary, the wife of the town preacher. Miss Rosemary also has two children of her own living at home, sixteen-year-old Roberta, or Bobbi, and fourteen-year-old Will Junior. While they are staying with Miss Rosemary, Mibs comes to believe that her savvy is the ability to awaken people. Certain that this will cure her father and bring him out of his coma, Mibs decides to travel to the hospital in Salina. Mibs manages to stowaway on the truck of travelling Bible salesman, Lester, along with Fish, Samson, Bobbi and Will Jr. Can the group make it to Salina in time to awaken Mibs’ father? What if Mibs is wrong about the nature of her savvy?
Review: This fun and imaginative story takes magic to a whole new level. Each power, or savvy, possessed by the Beaumont children adds an entertaining element to the story. When the children become upset, their savvy often “acts up” causing wind to blow or electricity to spark. Young readers will enjoy the antics created by the various powers. Also included amidst the magic of the story are the human elements of the plot. Mibs and her siblings are heartbroken at their father’s condition, and many tweens will be able to identify with these feelings, especially if they have ever had a relative who has been seriously injured or hospitalized. The relationship between the Beaumont children and the Meeks children is also very human. There is a romance between Mibs and Will Jr. that tweens will likely enjoy, but it is not too overwhelming as to repel male readers. Both genders will be able to enjoy the adventures the children experience as they travel with Lester, a very likable character. The end result of this mesh of magic and good character development is a very engaging story that tweens will certainly enjoy.
Reading level: Grades 4-8
Similar titles: Scumble by Ingrid Law (sequel to Savvy.)
Personal thoughts: I really enjoyed this fun and unique title. Magic and powers are very common in books for tweens, but I enjoyed the original way they were included in Savvy. I also liked that the romantic aspects didn’t overwhelm the rest of the plot (i.e. the Twilight series.) I would recommend this series to young readers looking for something entertaining.
Themes: Magic, sibling relationships, parents becoming injured/hospitalized, adventure.
Awards/Reviews: Newbery Award Honor Book, 2009. Positive reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly.
Series Information: Sequel: Scumble (2010).
Mississippi “Mibs” Beaumont – About to turn thirteen and receive her magical power, or savvy. After her father is injured, she thinks her savvy, which she believes is the ability to awaken people, will help to cure him.
Fish Beaumont – Fourteen-years-old and the older brother of Mibs. His savvy is the ability to create storms. He travels with Mibs to visit their father in the hospital.
Samson Beaumont – Seven-years-old and Mibs’ younger brother. He has not received his savvy yet, but he appears to be able to give other people confidence and strength by touching them.
Roberta “Bobbi” Meeks – Sixteen-year-old daughter of Miss Rosemary. She travels with the Beaumont children to visit their father. She has a crush on Rocket, the oldest Beaumont child.
Will Jr. Meeks – Fourteen-year-old son of Miss Rosemary. He travels with the Beaumont children and develops a crush on Mibs.
Lester Swan – Travelling Bible salesman who takes the Beaumont and Meeks children on his bus to visit the Beaumont father.
Lill Kiteley – A waitress who travels on the Bible bus with Lester and the children after she is fired from her job.
Rocket Beaumont – Seventeen-years-old and the oldest Beaumont sibling. His savvy is the ability to control electricity.
Miss Rosemary Meeks – The preacher’s wife, she looks after the Beaumont children after their father is injured.
Gypsy Beaumont – The youngest Beaumont child.
Annotation: Mibs Beaumont can’t wait to receive the magical power, or savvy, that all of the members of her family get when they turn thirteen. Her enjoyment is put on pause, however, when her father becomes comatose after being seriously injured in a car accident. Mibs believes that her savvy will give her the power to cure her father, and sets off on an adventure to save him.