Sunday, December 8, 2013

Book Review: A Blossom Promise by Betsy Byars (1987)

As the fourth Blossom adventure begins, the town of Alderson has been flooded by recent heavy rainstorms. Junior is excited that the sun is finally shining because Pap has promised to bring him to Mad Mary’s cave for an overnight visit. While he waits impatiently at home with his dog, Dump, Pap is off enjoying the water with his dog, Mud, and Vern and his best friend Michael are setting sail on a dangerous homemade raft. In the meantime, Maggie and her mother are riding in the rodeo, and Maggie is struggling to come to grips with her mother’s interest in a new man. When Vern gets himself into trouble, and Pap collapses running to his rescue, Junior is the only one available to save the day.

This book is probably the most action-oriented of the series. In the first three books, there are elements of danger and excitement, but in this story, there are real issues of life and death. Byars’s writing, though concise and relatively quick and easy to read, is filled with beautiful imagery. In my mind, the story passes by as a series of moments, each of which I can picture as clearly as if it were playing on a movie screen. I can see the creek swelling, the boys desperately paddling their raft, and Pap trying to swing his lasso and instead falling to the ground. I can picture the rodeo scenes, and empathize completely with Maggie’s excitement as she performs in her first true trick ride. I can even imagine Dump digging for frogs under the porch of the house, and Mud, crumpled on his side as he worries about the fate of his master. Byars is a wonderful storyteller, and the events of her books, and the emotions of her characters, have a tendency to stick with me indefinitely.

At the time of its publication, A Blossom Promise was the final book of the Blossoms series, and I think it provided a fitting conclusion for each character that would have left me perfectly satisfied. Several years after this book was published, however, Betsy Byars wrote a fifth book, Wanted… Mud Blossom, published in 1991, turning the series into a quintet.

1 comment:

  1. I so love this series. I have wonderful memories of reading them to my kids.