Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet is a 12-year-old genius cartographer who lives on a ranch in Montana. He maps everything, from creek drainage systems to corn shucking movements to cicada wings. His teachers are not appreciative of the effort T.S. puts into his Grade 7 school projects. For the unit on photosynthesis, T.S. made intricate diagrams of the opening and closing of a plant's stoma. "Mr. Stenpock had given me a C on the project for not properly following his instructions, but I was later given some vindication by publishing the illustration in Discover." His work has also been published in a number of other scientific magazines and at the Smithsonian Institute. Illustrations and footnote-like asides take up about a third of each page in this novel, adding a whimsical touch and giving us insight into the unusual workings of T.S.'s mind.

T.S. and his parents and sister are each grieving privately the death of the youngest member of the family, 10-year-old Layton. Not a lot of communication happens in this family. When someone from the Smithsonian phones to tell T.S. he has won a prestigious award and to invite him to speak at an upcoming banquet, T.S. decides not to disabuse the man of the notion that T.S. is an adult. He also decides not to say anything to his parents, but to get to Washington, D.C. on his own. It is a road trip as unique as the boy making the journey.

This is primarily a novel for adults, but anyone from about Grade 5 and up who likes reading about interesting characters will enjoy this funny and tender story.

No comments: