Keeper by Kathi Appelt (2010)

“It’s made from sassafras leaves,” Singe told her as she chopped up the okra and tomatoes, brought home fresh from the Tater Grocery & Market the day before.
Keeper loved loved loved that smell. “It smells scrumptious,” she told Singe. The spicy scent settled on her skin.
Keeper knew that the pot would sit on the stove top all day, simmering and stewing, and at the last minute, just before she served it, Singe would drop the crabs into a pot of boiling water, one at a time, and then add them to the gumbo (p 21-22).

With its use of repitition, with sound as well as word repitition, Appelt’s Keeper is like a song. Take the excerpt from above. The s sound slides off your tongue, a hiss fills air, and you can almost hear the gumbo cooking.

The story opens with Keeper sitting in a boat, waiting. And waiting some more. While she waits, we get an introduction of sorts. Keeper cleans surf boards for Dogie. She is methodical and her tenderness for Dogie is apparent.

But that pokie old blue moon is taking it’s time. Just as a mind with nothing to occupy itself will wander, the story wanders, taking us through Keeper’s day until we understand why such a young lass is sitting in a boat with only her dog for a companion. Waiting for the tide to take her out to sea.

There were moments when I grew impatient with Appelt’s repetition, especially as I was nearing the finale. Some part of me is a little disappointed at such a happy ending but the rest of me loves every aspect of the magic. My heart just about broke when the origin of Keeper’s unusual name was revealed.

Is it distinguished though? The Newbery Committee has their work cut out for themselves!

Read other reviews at: Abby the Librarian, Reading Rumpus, Fuse # Production

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One thought on “Keeper by Kathi Appelt (2010)

  1. Too funny, I just posted on this today too. I definately think it is one of the books the Newbery Committee will be looking at. We chose it as one of our Mock Newbery books.

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