Monday, January 17, 2011
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Please Ignore Vera Dietz made it onto my radar too late to add it to my Mock Printz list of books but one reader, who checked out the book from another library, told me that she thought this book could possibly be the year's winner. After reading it I see why. There are several really cool literary things that happen in this book. First we know right from the start that Vera Dietz's best friend Charlie is dead and he probably died from questionable circumstances. We also know that Vera is ignoring what she knows and is stuffing her feelings by drinking and being perpetually busy. The story of Charlie and Vera's friendship evolves through short chapters from earlier events in their lives. Fortunately, since there is so much movement back and forth in time, the chapter titles leave very little question what time period and date the event occurs in. For example one chapter is titled: "History-Age Thirteen-Summer." The chapter titles even tell us who will be the narrator of the chapter: Vera, Charlie (even though he's dead), Ken Dietz (Vera's dad), and even the Pagoda (yes, a building!)
A second cool literary device it uses is how Vera incorporates the vocabulary words she is learning for her English class into the context of the story. But she doesn't do it sneaky like some SAT prep book might, she does it right out front: "Here's me using exacerbate in a sentence. Greg thinks he helps on busy nights, but really, he only exacerbates the problem." (p. 152)
Another thing that A.S. (Amy) King does that seems to be a winning combination for Printz selection, she uses literary allusions to a classic book, Lord of the Flies. Not many but just enough to give the book a bit of authority and let us know that her character Vera is no academic slough. But, come to think of it, Lord of the Flies is one of those books I never read in school and should have, so perhaps there are more allusions to it that I didn't catch. I believe there is a challenge for me in this paragraph! Hm..m..
Now I challenge you to read it and see what you think. I should warn you, however, to keep a hankie nearby. You may need it. I did.
*This book is part of the Printz Project Challenge and also one of the 10 books I hoped to get to in 2011.