Today’s Pick: This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. CavanaughSourcebooks/Jabberwocky, 2013
Meet Ratchet, an 11-year-old girl who knows more about spark plugs than sleepovers. Homeschooled by her mechanic-environmentalist dad, and with her mother long dead, Ratchet only wants one thing: to belong.
This is Ratchet's journal and in its pages are Ratchet's writings, her poems, and her drawings. Together, they tell Ratchet's story. It's a story about trying to make friends, about fighting to save a park, about the memories of her mother, and about her unlikely friendship with a boy. This journal is her sanctuary. And it's always there for Ratchet when no one else will listen.
I really enjoyed this story! Ratchet's determination and struggle to get her dad to notice her and to fix her life so she’d have friends and some recognition for her unique talents kept me hooked. I enjoy reading about characters with unique interests (like Ratchet’s mechanical ability) in out-of-the-ordinary situations, so this book held my interest all the way through. I also really liked the format of the book. The story was presented through Ratchet’s home-school assignments, so each page had a different writing style.
As a writer, it was so interesting to think about how the story continued even though each scene was structured in a different writing format (poems, personal essays, and even a fairytale). I would read this book again to study how the author wove in details of Ratchet’s character and her goals throughout the story.
“It’s not normal for me to know so much about engines. But it’s more un-normal for the boys to know so little.”
“But a dad is not the same as a mom. It’s like the difference between riding in a beat-up old Jeep instead of a brand-new fancy car. Both can take you where you want to go, but the ride just isn’t the same.”
This is Nancy Cavanaugh's first novel. Her dream to become a children’s book author began in 1994. She stuck with her dream for many years because she loves to write!
On her blog she says, “For me the revision process it super satisfying because there’s nothing like watching your story get better and better.”
Watch for an interview with Nancy Cavanaugh on this blog on Wednesday!
For more info, visit Nancy Cavanaugh’s website.