Bookshelf Blurb: Happiness can be found when you allow it into your life–or when it is forced by a young girl who finds she can’t stay away from trouble.
America’s Review: Inge Maria is a curious and charismatic young girl who brings life to her elderly grandmother along with the town of Bornholm in Katrina Nannestad’s new book, When Mischief Came to Town. The little island, located in the Baltic Sea, has been without vitality since Inge Marie’s grandma, Dizzy Bruland, grew up, became serious and forgot how to have fun.
Inge Maria is placed on a ship and sent to live in Borhnolm–a foreign place, with foreign people—after the death of her mother. She has never met her grandmother, seen the town or lived outside of the city limits. Despite her new surroundings, she makes friends and shakes up the town with her antics. Once Inge Marie melts the ice surrounding many of the characters’ hearts, it is wonderful to see the town embrace the element they had lost: fun.
Inge Maria worries if allowing fun to enter her life will dishonor the passing of her mother; she wants to prove her mother proud by being a good girl who will never allow her mother to fade from her memory. She soon discovers that living continues despite the loss of a loved one, and fun abounds when you allow it to enter your life–it doesn’t mean you forget those who have left us, but rather that they made you a better person because they were in your life.
In the classroom: The atmosphere of small town life in Bornholm aids in creating a perfect read for the middle grades and studying the characters in this book. Inge Marie is greeted by a terse, old woman who does not show emotion, and this personality trait seems to be prevalent in the town. Through no true fault of Inge Marie, she soon infiltrates the town with her crazy antics. (This includes stealing bloomers off a clothes line and using them as a flag.)
When Mischief Came to Town offers character growth for the protagonist as well as every supporting role. Students in grades 3-5 can write a book report focusing on the characters. Have your students pick a character and create a timeline for them that charts their growth throughout the book (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3). This can easily be done with pictures–stick figures work for those who cannot draw. Have your students place bubble conversations above their heads using direct quotes from the text which should show different character traits: happy, grouchy, sad. Make sure the pictures illustrate the look on their face for the character trait they are describing.
When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad (HMH Books for Young Readers | 9780544534322 | January 5, 2016)