01 June 2005

Meet the Callahan Cousins

I picked up this hardback children's novel, The Callahan Cousins #1: the Summer Begins in Borders yesterday. I've never had any reluctance to pick up children's or young adults' books if they looked interesting enough, and initially, I fell in love with the cover of this book! It wasn't just the shore scene with the white-steepled church in the midst of it (which reminded me of Newport), but because it looked just like the books I grew up with, the inexpensive hardback Whitman books that were only 29¢ when my mom started buying them for me in the early 1960s.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed the story, although there were a few times that, to me, that the four girls didn't sound like they were only twelve years old, and Gee, their grandmother, seems just too good to be true! (As in all these books, everyone has plenty of money so there are always swell things in the house. Gee's "beach house" is huge, has terraces, a boathouse, a huge pool, etc.) And the girls' nemesis, a spoilt girl named Sloan Bicket, reminds me a lot of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter books. But these are very minor quibbles; it's very easy to like the characters and situations.

Hillary Callahan and her three girl cousins Phoebe, Neve, and Kate, are all spending the summer at Grandma Gee's house on Gull Island, a privilege granted to all female Callahan cousins when they turn twelve. Hillary's parents have just divorced and she is desperate to prove that she is still a Callahan cousin. So when she finds out her uncles had an old tradition of planting a flag on a small nearby island, she is determined that she and her cousins will do the same thing. As the girls learn about sailing, tides, boats, and navigation, they also learn about friendship and old rivalries. The girls are all very "today," but the book is very nostalgic, harking back to those great old series like the Timber Trail Riders, Trixie Belden, and others. The next one is due out in September and I'm looking forward to it.

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