Monday, March 6, 2017

Reviews from the Children's Section - Mandy

One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday.  Some of the books I'll be picking are old childhood favorites, some are classics that I missed for whatever reason, and some will be newer releases that I just couldn't resist!

This month's book is a book published in 1971 but I didn't hear about it until after I joined Goodreads in 2011.  Not sure how I missed it!

Mandy by Julie Edwards

Mandy is by Julie Edwards better known as Julie Andrews (yes - THAT Julie Andrews.  Mary Poppins wrote a children's book!).  It's the story of a little girl named Mandy growing up in an orphanage.  She's never known who her family is and desperately wants a place to call her own.  When a trip over the wall leads to the discovery of an old abandoned cottage she thinks she's found her place.  But everything isn't quite as simple as it seems nor as perfect.

I can't tell you how much I wanted to love this book- I mean it's a children's book by MARY POPPINS!  How could I not love it?  Except I kind of didn't.  I loved the idea of the abandoned cottage and this little girl with no true place of her own making it hers.  I understood why she wanted to keep it a secret.  I loved the descriptions of her time at the cottage and all the animals she saw there.  I also really enjoyed the development later in the book surrounding the cottage.  But I struggled with Mandy in other situations.  There's a lot of lying and lying to everyone - even to people who truly care about her.  While I'm not a huge fan of regular lying in a children's book I think it would be pretty clear to the youngest of readers that the lying was not the way to go.  Mandy spends a good chunk of the book so stressed and anxious that I found myself stressed and anxious.  At one point I realized I was holding my breath a little like I was reading a thriller.  Not exactly the magical adventure I was looking for!  I also got a little frustrated with Mandy in the latter half of the book for being so discontented.  There were a few times I just wanted to tell her to stop complaining and be happy that all these people love her.

While this book wasn't quite as wonderful for me as an adult I suspect it would really speak to children - especially those in a little bit of upheaval.  That need to have some control over your environment is so clear on the page and Mandy does a fantastic job of voicing her uncertainty, her jealousy, and just the frustration of not being able to be in charge of her own destiny just because she's a child.  While she does lie a lot the book very clearly shows the consequences - not just getting caught but the stress and how it hurts those around you which I think would be more effective than a heavily moral story.  And there's a happy ending that I think would satisfy all readers.

While I didn't fall head over heels in love with this book and it isn't landing on my Keeper Shelf I am glad I read it.  It was well written and hooked me even when I didn't care for what was happening on the page.  I have heard that Edwards has several other books and I'm curious about them. While I think I would have rated this Really Good or even Loved it as a child as an adult I'm rating it: Good


  1. I hadn't heard of this book, Katherine. And the fact Julie Andrews wrote it would interest me, but I think I would have the same problems you had with it. I do really like the cover. That would have drawn me to the book, I think. My Mom and I read the Mary Poppins books together and we loved those.

  2. I'm always a bit apprehensive when I hear about celebrities writing children's books. I'm sorry this didn't touch you the way you were hoping for.

  3. I was hoping that this would be an amazing read. I love Julie Andrews. It is nice to know that younger audiences will probably enjoy it a bit more.

  4. Ah that is a bummer that you didn't like it better!

  5. Does that picture mean you have Blue Castle and Cheaper by the Dozen coming up? Lucky! Enjoy them and I can't wait to hear what you think.

  6. It is interesting to read a book as an adult and have a different perspective to perhaps a child reader. Great idea to devote one Monday a month to a middle gradish book. I have a couple on my list I want to read this year.