Friday, November 6, 2009

The Blue Umbrella-Mike Mason

The Blue Umbrella
Mike Mason
David C. Cook, Oct 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9781434765260

Ten years old Zac Sparks has lived with his single mom on a golf course all his life. He loves his mom who raises him with love. Zac's mother dies when she walks the course at night and is struck by a single bolt of lightning. Zac’s two aunts whom he never met attend the funeral.

The Aunties inform him he will live with them in Five Corners, but the moment everyone leaves the trio alone, they turn from friendly to nasty. Not allowed to take anything with him except the clothing he is wearing, at Five Corners, the Aunties are even more abusive to a stunned Zac, who they call Boy and hammer him with canes when they do not lock him in his room for anything and everything. He meets Dada who claims to be the Aunties’ father; Dada demands he steals the blue umbrella from Mr. Sky Porter who runs the general store where Zac works after school or else. Zac refuses to steal the umbrella because Mr. Porter is the only nice and seemingly sane person in Five Corners. His relatives are nasty and others he meets are weird, but he is only beginning to learn that Five Corners is the focus for eerie strangeness

This is an exhilarating unusual middle school fantasy starring a tweener who has the weight of the world collapsing on him when his mom dies. Filled with vivid descriptions starting with extremely tall but extremely thin Auntie and the extremely fat but extremely short other Auntie and never slows down as Zac goes form nurturing maternal love to abuse. Fans will want to join him as he deals with his Aunties, Dada, Butler and others, but especially when though frightened to being almost paralyzed he bravely goes up the staircase to who knows where. This is an inspiration winner with an allegorical nod to biblical Job.

Harriet Klausner

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