Madame Squidley and Beanie
By Alice Mead
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Hardcover, 9780374346881, 144pp.)
Publication Date: May 2004
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The story of a girl whose mother has a chronic illness
Beanie's mom used to be a lot of fun. She still is, when she pretends to be the amazing fortune-teller, Madame Squidley. But Beanie knows it's a strain. Mrs. Kingsley has been sick for months, and doctors can't say exactly what's wrong. They don't seem to take the illness very seriously, though. Beanie does. She worries about her mom, and wonders what will happen to her and Jerm, her little brother, if their mother doesn't get well. Beanie's friend Charles Sprague has a problem, too -- scoliosis, and divorced parents who fight about it. Beanie begins to long for a new mother and a whole new set of friends. Then she discovers that she already has the best family, and the best friend, and that there's plenty she can do to help them.
This is perhaps the most personal story written by Alice Mead, herself a mother with a chronic illness.
Alice Mead is the author of Year of No Rain, Girl of Kosovo, Soldier Mom, Adem's Cross, and three novels about Junebug. According to Booklist, she "writes of important subjects with tenderness, humanity, and realism." She lives in Maine.
"The family dynamics ring true...[an] insightful portrait of a girl and her family adjusting to a worrisome illness." -- Booklist
"Mead has done her usual good job of creating realistic characters who worry about then solve real problems. Fans of Junebug will enjoy Beanie." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Mead realistically shows how peer pressure prods Beanie...This slice-of-life novel depicts kids whose problems are unusual but not insurmountable." -- School Library Journal
"Mead offers an insightful and realistic portrait of a young girl emotionally conflicted over her deep love for her mother and her desire for her to be someone different...many readers will see their own thought patterns replicated in Beanie's obsessing over things she can't control, and thus Beanie's epiphany may help guide them toward their own."
- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books