Jip: His Story

by Katherine Paterson

Young Jip knows nothing of his origins except that he fell off the back of a wagon... read more

Young Jip knows nothing of his origins except that he fell off the back of a wagon that was passing through town when he was a toddler and, due to his coloring, folks reckon it must have been a gypsy wagon. His earliest memory is of the poor farm where he has spent his childhood, growing up with a group of people who don't quite fit in anywhere in this mid-19th century Vermont town. The day-to-day drudgery that defines Jip's existence is occasionally interrupted by the arrival of new residents: a destitute woman and her three children, for instance, and an insane man who is kept in a cage. Because he accepts people on their own terms, Jip is able to get along pretty well with everyone. But lately, he has noticed a stranger on the premises, a man who seems to have a special interest in Jip himself. Who is the stranger and what does he want? This question adds dramatic tension to Jip's life and to Katherine Paterson's latest novel. And the answer, once it is revealed midway through the story, sets the wheels in motion for a edge-of-your-chair escape that perfectly counter-balances the story's quiet, humble beginnings. Paterson skillfully creates a sense of a distinctive time and place, peopled with unusual, but no less real, characters. Within this context, she is able to explore complex issues, leaving plenty of room for young readers to approach them, like Jip, on their own terms. Winner, 1996 CCBC Newbery Award Discussion (Ages 9-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1996

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