International Writers Magazine:Young Fiction
by Jerry Spinelli
London: Orchard Books, 2007.
is the tale of two complex and fragile children with painful pasts.
Nine year old David has just lost his mother in a freak accident.
He is angry and struggling to come to terms with his loss. David
adopts a method to control his pain by forcing himself to follow
every rule and by never allowing himself to witness another sunrise
without his mother. He meets thirteen year old Primrose while she
is pretending to be dead, during an Easter Egg hunt.
Primrose is a wayward,
independent girl with an absent father and a difficult mother. Primrose
lives in a fantasy world and does exactly how she pleases. The two form
an instant bond through their joint anger and instability but also through
their very different ways of coping with that pain. Primrose breaks
all the rules, crossing boundaries, while David is desperate to abide
by them. Together, through their extraordinary relationship, the two
manage to overcome their problems and realise that there is hope in
Aimed at readers between the ages of 9 and 12, Eggs deals with themes
of anger, disappointment, loss and rejection. The novel takes the reader
on a literal and metaphorical journey through the two characters
difficulties and how they try to control and eventually overcome them.
It could be considered that a novel dealing with the relationship between
two damaged children would be overly miserable and self indulgent and
that, in turn, this would not appeal to children. However, the opposite
occurs. From the beginning, Jerry Spinelli presents the reader with
a colourful, dynamic, visually and emotionally stimulating novel.
The reader can, at once, identify with the two characters and their
hopes and anxieties. The relationship between David and Primrose is
portrayed in an extraordinarily honest and raw fashion. The novels
strength lies in its simplicity, both in plot and literary style.
The dialogue effectively portrays the emotional instabilities and fears
of the characters but also the humour. At some points, the dialogue
is too stark and punchy and the chapters are very short. However, this
would appeal to younger readers.
Eggs relies on its characterisation and although the plot is very thin,
not offering anything in the way of excitement and adventure, which
you would expect in a childrens book, this is actually effective
in this novel as it heightens the relationship between David and Primrose.
The book focuses on the inner growth of the characters, through their
relationship, rather than outside events.
However, the most effective aspect of Eggs is the visual imagery and
use of metaphors. The subtlety and simplicity of the novel is heightened
by this, providing the novel with an almost dreamy, magical sense. The
most obvious metaphor is that of eggs, which is a running motif throughout
the book and is used to great effect in instances such as the time Primrose
pretends to be dead and David sees her closed eyes as tiny twin
eggs, (Spinelli, 2007, p. 18). There is also the imagery connected
with the emotional journey on which David and Primrose have embarked.
This is portrayed through the imagery of train tracks and the lure of
the city at the other end.
Eggs is a wonderful book and an effective novel for the age group. The
colourful main characters are both compelling and humorous and children
can relate to their feelings of confusion and of growing up in difficult
circumstances. The novel oozes with hope and the power of friendships,
portraying the most difficult of emotions in a subtle and heart warming
way. Eggs doesnt dwell on the pain, but focuses instead on the
hope and beauty that can be found in other people, leaving a warm feeling
in the readers stomach.
© Anona Evans May 2008
Anona is currently writing her own childrens novel whilst studying for
her Masters at Portsmouth
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