Puddlejumpers

Title: Puddlejumpers

Author: Mark Jean, Christopher C. Carlson

Ernie Banks has always been a mystery. Left on an orphanage steps one Christmas morning by a truck driver, he has no idea the remarkable story that brought him to this place. For Ernie was meant for a destiny. At least, the Puddlejumpers think so. These tiny creatures have been waiting for their Rainmaker and will do everything in their power to see the prophecy fulfilled.

This book was a treat on several levels. First, the prose is strong and evocative—it’s been a while since I’ve read something where the language impressed me this much. So much character and drama cram into such little snippets of scene.

Second, the Puddlejumpers offer the welcome surprise of a non-human race that doesn’t speak English. And they do speak their own language. It gets many lines of dialogue, which gives a good feel for how it sounds, and there’s even a spot where some of the grammar gets expanded a little. I really enjoyed how much depth this gives them; they have their own expressions which start to become familiar as the book goes on.

Third, I enjoyed the plot. While many elements of the story will be familiar, the solid writing brought the characters to life and made it their own story. Ernie is particularly sad to me because he’s twice lost a place where he was loved and treasured, to end up in a place where his relationship with the world is mostly antagonistic. Here, too, though, the story avoids the easy way out of making Mrs. McGinty nothing but a villain. She’s certainly unlikeable, but her thoughts and motivations get enough light that she is understandable, and she’s a world away from the Troggs.

Finally, the story manages in certain points to transcend the fantastic and go into the mythic, which turns it from merely a good fantasy to something that has a lot more depth for me. MotherEarth was a lot of fun. Some of the scenes near the end also touched on the larger-than-life experience.

There’s only a little that I wish might have been done a bit differently. Ernie’s journey as the Rainmaker is good, but I was fully expecting him to need and use his human size and shape to do what the Puddlejumpers could not. The fact that he needs neither of these (and it’s actually a hindrance) came as a surprise. So it leaves the puzzling loose end of why him at all? How did he get drafted into a Puddlejumper prophecy? What did he have that they didn’t?

Overall, though, that wasn’t enough to spoil the book for me. I rate this book Recommended.

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