This coming-of-age fantasy book by Ingrid Law is published by Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin and is written for kids ages 9 to 11. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Mississippi (Mibs) Beaumont nervously anticipates her 13th birthday. She knows that at 13, everyone in her family has discovered their savvy and can't wait to find out hers. Savvy is a supernatural power that manifests itself differently in each Beaumont. It's an inherited quality — a special kind of know-how that goes beyond an average person's ability — that one must learn to control. Examples of savvy in the Beaumont family: One of Mibs' brothers can control electricity with his mind; another can control water. Her grandfather's moods can make the earth shift and quake.
A tragic car accident leaves Mibs' dad (Poppa) unconscious in a hospital far away. Mibs is determined to get to him. At first, Mibs thinks her savvy is that she can wake things up, which is what she wants to do to her father. She, two of her brothers and the pastor's kids stow away on the pink bus of a Bible salesman named Lester, hoping he will take them where they need to go. But when the bus heads in the opposite direction, the kids find themselves on an unforgettable road trip.
Over time, Mibs realizes her savvy is that she can actually hear people talking to her through ink on their bodies, whether it's a tattoo or someone writing on his hand with a ballpoint pen. The stowaways finally reach Poppa, and Mibs urges him not to give up fighting for his life. Poppa survives, though not without the need for extensive rehabilitation, and Mibs learns that there is good to be found even in the midst of difficult experiences and pain.
Mibs isn't always sure whether God hears or understands her. When Will Junior (the Pastor's son) says he's praying for her father, Mibs tells readers that she sometimes prays about her impending savvy and has occasionally prayed for sick relatives, but she hadn't thought to pray for her Poppa. Later, she prays no one will attend her birthday party that Miss Rosemary (the pastor's wife) is planning. Though Mibs feels Miss Rosemary believes God will help make the party a success, she (Mibs) hopes that God has better things to do and will stay out of it. Momma makes the whole family go to church every Sunday, which Mibs refers to as the Lord's Day. Momma also notes that everyone should keep hoping and praying for Poppa, because those are the things they can all do. Mibs says Poppa's recovery may be a miracle.
Other Belief Systems
Mibs says at one point that Bobbi's eyes look like they're shooting out voodoo vibes. Mibs also suggests her younger brother has a type of "human magic" that manifests itself when a person demonstrates concern for his fellow man.
Some of Mibs' classmates nickname her "Missy-P---y." Bobbi curses a few times, as does a maintenance man in the hospital, but no actual profanity appears in the text.
Will kisses Mibs (once, quickly) in the hotel pool. She later tells him she really likes him, but she's not ready to be kissing him yet. He tells her he can wait. While on the run, 13-year-old Mibs shares a motel bed with Lill. It's completely innocent, but Mibs has just met Lill so it might not have been the wisest move.
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Several people in the story have tattoos. Poppa has a mermaid from his Navy days; the preacher's daughter, Bobbi, wears a temporary tattoo of an angel with a devil's tail; Lester, the Bible salesman, has several in honor of an old girlfriend and his mother; bikers and a homeless man have them as well. Since Mibs' savvy involves hearing people's thoughts through the ink on their skin, these tattoos are integral parts of the story. Tattooing is neither applauded nor condemned in the book.
The kids lie to Lill, telling her they have called their parents to let their parents know they're safe. In fact, Bobbi has faked her mother's voice on another phone line for Lill's benefit (which she has also apparently done to get out of going to school at times). The kids also lie to Lill about why they're on the road with Lester. Mibs later feels remorse for her lies and deception, fearing in part that they will get Lill and Lester in trouble with the law.
As the group escapes from the diner where Lill has just been fired, they steal a pie.
Walden Media has acquired the rights to turn this book into a feature film.
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Readability Age Range
9 to 11
Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin
Newbery Honor Book, 2009; Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, 2008; Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, 2008