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Kid Konnection: Porcupine

July 3, 2010

Twelve year old Jacqueline (or Jack as she prefers to be called) is the oldest of three children in a typical, middle-class, Canadian family.  She has a special bond with her father, so she’s nervous when he’s sent to Afghanistan as part of a peace-keeping force.  He reassures her that everything will be okay and gives her his watch for safe-keeping.

Everything isn’t okay, though, and Jack’s father is killed by friendly fire shortly after arriving in Afghanistan.  Jack and her siblings are devastated, and their mother doesn’t seem to know how to cope.  Jack does her best to hold the family together, but even her best efforts aren’t enough, and when the family is about to lose their house, Jack’s mother packs up the kids and moves across the country to her grandmother’s house.

At first, the kids resent being there with their crotchety old great-grandmother, but Jack overhears something one day that makes her realize things aren’t as bad as she thought.

When I started Porcupine, by Meg Tilly (the actress), my initial thought was that the narrator seemed older than twelve, but quickly realized it was because Jack was forced to grow up before her time.  I ended up totally engrossed in this story and just sobbed towards the end.  I don’t think I can express how much I ended up loving this story!

Jack is such a great character.  After her father dies, life isn’t easy for her, but she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, she does something about it!  She works hard to help her great-grandmother, to fit in at school and to keep her family together.  It’s just too much for a twelve year old, but Jack does her best, sometimes stumbling along the way.

Jack’s great-grandmother is wonderful too.  Sure, she’s crotchety, but she’s determined and earnest and hard working too.  She’s fiercely protective of her own and doesn’t hesitate to let you know how she feels.

The characters aren’t the only good part of Porcupine, though – the story is wonderful too.  I got caught up in it quickly and just had to know how things were going to turn out.  Things didn’t always go how I predicted either!  I think there are many young people who can relate to what Jack and her siblings are going through.  There is a little language in this book, but it seemed appropriate for the story.  Oh, and isn’t that cover fabulous?

For more children’s books reviews, go to Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week,  leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Tundra Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2010 8:09 am

    I thought the author’s name sounded familiar. Sounds like a great book, glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  2. July 3, 2010 8:12 am

    Sounds like a wonderful book. Love your review. The only part would be the sobbing at the end. I’m very tender hearted so it doesn’t take much for me. 🙂
    I’ll have to add this to my list. Thanks.

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. July 3, 2010 8:38 am

    Meg Tilly has gotten good reviews as an author and I’m pleased to see that the acclaim was deserved. Sounds like a great story.

  4. July 3, 2010 8:44 am

    I love crotchety old grandmothers in fiction. They always turn out to be so integral to the story. This sounds like a good read.

  5. July 3, 2010 8:58 am

    I recognized the authors name too and couldn’t place where I knew it from until you said at the end she is an actress.
    This sounds like a good read!

  6. July 3, 2010 9:33 am

    I love that she likes to be called Jack..cute
    Sounds like a book for 4-7th grade?

    • July 3, 2010 9:35 am

      This book is definitely YA and I would probably recommend it for 9th grade and up.

  7. July 3, 2010 9:57 am

    Great Review Kathy, I heard about this book and I was unsure about reading it because of the content but after reading I have to say I am very curious about it now.

    Thanks for sharing the review with us.

    Happy 4th of July to you and your family.

  8. July 3, 2010 11:07 am

    I’m glad the book is good because it seems actors and actresses can get their books published no matter what!

  9. July 3, 2010 12:01 pm

    The cover is adorable! I’m excited to check this one out. It seems like it deals with some pretty serious issues.

  10. July 3, 2010 12:04 pm

    Just from reading your review I already love Jack. I’m going to find this one.

  11. July 3, 2010 12:46 pm

    This book sounds delightful! I would imagine the narrator is older than her years as well – but the events in her life would make it plausible.

  12. July 3, 2010 2:12 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read some of Tilley’s books, especially “Singing Songs”.

  13. July 3, 2010 5:01 pm

    you are right about the cover…I would buy it for that alone.
    great that it is a good story too!

  14. stacybuckeye permalink
    July 3, 2010 6:06 pm

    Who knew Meg Tilly could write? Good for her 🙂

  15. July 4, 2010 4:52 pm

    I love the premise. Makes me think Jack might sound a lot like Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird…young, but speaks well for their age and seems older. Sounds like an interesting, emotional read. Thanks for the review.

  16. July 4, 2010 7:43 pm

    I usually avoid books authored by celebrities like the plague, but I love, love, love Meg Tilly. And last year, one of my favorite YA books was I, Lorelei by the gal that Yeardley Smith, who is Lisa Simpson’s voice. I think I’ll make an exception for Meg Tilly here. 🙂

  17. July 5, 2010 10:12 am

    I bet my daughter would just love this book, and I bet she would let me snag it when she’s done! It sounds like a really fantastic read and one that would probably tug at my heart strings. Great review, Kathy! I want this book!

  18. July 5, 2010 11:24 am

    This sounds so sweet.
    Great review. I’ll have to check her books out.

  19. July 8, 2010 7:55 am

    Sounds like a book I’m just going to have to add to my to-read list. I just learned recently that Meg Tilly is an author, and I was wondering about her writing.

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