Saturday, December 05, 2009

Antsy Does Time (MG, YA)

Shusterman, Neal. 2008. Antsy Does Time. Penguin. 256 pages.

It was all my idea. The stupid ones usually are. Once in a while the genius ideas are mine, too. Not on purpose, though. You know what they say: if you put, like, fourteen thousand monkeys in front of computer keyboards for a hundred years, aside from a whole lot of dead monkeys, you'd end up with one masterpiece among the garbage. Then they'd start teaching it in schools to make you feel miserable, because if a monkey can write something brilliant, why can't you put five measly sentences together for a writing prompt?

This idea--I don't know whether it was a brilliant-monkey idea, or a stupid-Antsy idea, but it sure had power to change a whole lot of lives.

This is the follow-up to The Schwa Was Here. (It's not so much a sequel sequel, as a continuation of one character in a way. Anthony or "Antsy." Yes, we see his friends and family pop up here and there. But there's no reason you'd have to have read The Schwa Was Here to read this one. Each is complete all on its own.)

I loved it. I just LOVED it. I love Antsy. I do. And he sure gets a mess in this one! A well-intentioned one to be sure, but a mess all the same. Antsy Bonano has a big heart which is why when one of his classmates, Gunnar, confides in him that he's dying, Antsy does something unexpected and oh-so-sincere. He signs away one month of his life and gives a friend a certificate saying just that. The gesture catches on. This "time-shaving". And Antsy becomes Master of Time. Students, Teachers, Principals even. All signing up to "give" the gift of life. Of course, what value does a piece of paper really have to a dying boy? Well, that's up to you to decide...

This one has it all. A lot of heart. But also a LOT of humor. It was so very funny in all the right places and all the right ways. The narration is really great. (Though I don't know if great sums it all up.) It just works for me. I never get tired of spending time with Antsy.

Going over to someone's house you barely know is always an adventure of strange smells, strange sights, and strange dogs that will either yap at you or sniff places you'd rather not be sniffed. But there's interesting things at unexplored homes as well, like a giant tank of Chinese water dragons, or a home theater better than the multiplex, or a goddess answering the door. (30, 31)
One extra thing made this one all the more for me...Antsy and his classmates are studying John Steinbeck's Grape of Wrath. So all the Steinbeck bits were fun for me.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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