midnight kids, by Dan Jiminhardt
Dan Jiminhart is the creator of whimsically and clearly believable worlds and everything related to childhood imagination, by children and teenagers unencumbered by the rules of adults who make amazing decisions for adults. He is also unusually obsessed with grief and loss.
It was my 10-year-old’s turn to read aloud when our family reached the climax of the scene in Gemeinhart’s extraordinary previous book, “The Wonderful Journey of Coyote Sunrise”, When all losses converge. I won’t spoil it except to say my daughter read in confusion as my wife and I cried Buckets. Gemeinhart took us to a place (totally vulnerable, completely exposed) that Hollywood producers can only dream of. We felt purified, purified, and grateful. This writer has delved into us and others.
His sixth novel, Midnight’s Children, is light by Jiminhart’s standards—readers will probably be able to control their tears—but heavy nonetheless. The movie is about a cute but unfriendly boy named Ravani who builds birdhouses by himself after school and is mercilessly bullied by Donnie Carter, a horror show based in the town of Slaughterville. The city’s economy revolves around the local slaughterhouse, and all its streets are named after that. Ravani lives off-road.
It all starts to glow when a mysterious truck stops to the abandoned house across the street from Ravani and seven children – unaccompanied by adults – go out and stay. Among them was Virginia, a girl “about twelve or thirteen years old,” whose hair was “tied at the back with a black ribbon, and looked silver in the moonlight.” Thus begins a story of friendship, belonging and an annual regatta at Caracas Creek. Ravani and his new friends become a kind of family while escaping from an orphaned hunter known only as the Hunter in a book consisting of equal parts adventure story and bildungsroman set.
Why do seven children live together without fathers? What’s in a 100-year-old book they take with them every time they move in? Is the “magic” they claim to be their guide and protector real? The answers relate to what we like to believe – about children’s ingenuity and steadfast love, and what adults can do for and for them.
Jiminhart’s lesson, which he stresses over and over, is that “this story, like all stories, is about choices.” Each child discovers a special power – Virginia is a living lie detector; Colt can forge any type of paperwork; Beth does the perfect impressions. Annabelle, “only 5 or 6 years old”, can choose any lock – and by searching for each other, they create a world of relative safety and great joy, Neverland or Pleasure Island where children turn into not donkeys and not adults but young people who can withstand real heavy weight for each other’s lives. Ravani falls headlong into their world and learns the meaning of protection and protection, to care more about someone else than himself, and to take decisive action when the risks are life and death.
Most importantly, Gemeinhart offers a way to speak to middle-class readers about the world they grow up in: the stakes be deadly; we an act need to search for each other; everything Not yes. However, Gemeinhart reminds us that “things don’t always have to be the same as they have always been.” These kids become the heroes of their story Because The world is approaching them. Our kids can learn a lot from this set. So we can.
The fourth book of Craig Morgan Teicher’s poems, Welcome to Sunnyvale, New Jersey, was published last year.
midnight kids, by Dan Jiminhardt | 352 p. | Henry Holt | $16.99 | Ages 8 to 12 years old