Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.
Not as We Know It by Tom Avery. 159 p. Scwartz & Wade Books/ Random House Childrens Books, August, 2016. 9780533535099.
Publisher synopsis: For fans of David Almond’s Skellig and Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls, here is a lyrical, atmospheric, and deeply emotional middle-grade novel with a touch of magical realism.
Twins Jamie and Ned do everything together, from watching their favorite show, Star Trek, to riding their bikes, to beachcombing after a storm. But Ned is sick with cystic fibrosis, and he may someday leave Jamie behind. One day the boys find a strange animal on the beach: smooth flesh on one end, scales at the other, and short arms and legs with long webbed fingers and toes. Could it be a merman, like in the old stories Granddad tells?
Together, the boys name the creature Leonard and decide to hide him in a tub in their garage. But . . . why is Leonard here? Jamie hopes he might bring some miracle that will stop his brother from going where he can no longer follow. But Ned, who grows closer to Leonard every day, doesn’t seem to be getting any better. . . .
First Line: A storm came to Portland. In the night it threw itself against our windows. The thunder called to us. Black clouds gathered across the island. The days were dark.
Page 56: Often in Star Trek, when the crew encounter alien life, there are some side effects: the whole crew lose their minds and start prancing around on some distant planet; someone gets psychic powers; Sulu, the ship's pilot, thinks he's a pirate. That kind of thing. If they met someone like our Leonard, the other Leonard-the Enterprise's doctor-would want to be sure he wasn't poisonous to them or they weren't poisonous to him.
We had no idea what effect our Leonard would have on us. But like Captain Kirk, Ned had no caution.
I don't know how this one got by me. I really do try to keep up with reviews, especially starred reviews. This one got two. It came in my JLG subscription. When I unpacked it from the box, no bells rang. The cover seemed a bit creepy. I felt no immediate desire to read it though. As I was doing the final processing, stamping and covering, a page, blank save for these words caught my eye.
It's life, Captain, but not as we know it.
-Commander Spock, Star Trek: the Motion Picture
Then, I went back and read the jacket blurb. I was hooked and stopped to read the first few pages. I know exactly which of my students will love this book. But first, I have to read it.