Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Binny for Short

It's a new Hilary McKay novel!!! That is really as long as this review needs to be right? It should be. But alas, some of you may not know about the wonderful Hilary McKay so I'll tell you a bit more. Binny for Short is wonderful, a terrific read for summer, or anytime you need a little summer in your life.

When she was eight, Binny’s life was perfect: She had her father’s wonderful stories and Max, the best dog ever. But after her father’s sudden death, money is tight, and Aunty Violet decides to give Max away—he is just too big for their cramped new life. Binny knows she can’t get her dad back, but she never stops missing Max, or trying to find him. Then, when she’s eleven, everything changes again.
Aunty Violet has died, and left Binny and her family an old house in a seaside town. Binny is faced with a new crush, a new frenemy, and…a ghost? It seems Aunty Violet may not have completely departed. It’s odd being haunted by her aunt, but there is also the warmth of a busy and loving mother, a musical older sister, and a hilarious little brother, who is busy with his experiments. And his wetsuit. And his chickens.

Anyone who has read McKay before will feel comfortable within the pages of this book. It is so nice to start a story, sit back, and know your in the hands of an author you can trust. Those unfamiliar with McKay are in for a treat as they discover the wonderful characters she creates and the stories she builds around them. Binny's story starts out pretty dire. Her father has died, her dog has been moved to parts unknown, and nothing is as it was. Binny is haunted by the hole her missing dog left in her life. She is haunted by how much less she can remember her father than her dog. She believes she is being literally haunted by her mean Aunt Violet who has left them her house. Binny is so delightfully 11, and I say that without any sarcasm. Gareth, whose family owns the house next door, becomes her instant frenemy. He is oh so obnoxious, doesn't like anything, and yet you can't help but want to hug him. He and Binny have some great adventures.

As always in true McKay style this is a perfect sibling story. Clem, Binny's older sister, and James, her crazy younger brother, play large roles and their personalities take up just as much space as Binny's. Their mother is stressed and overworked so the kids have to work together to help her out and take of each other.

The seaside village where the family moves is wonderful too. McKay brought it to life in so many wonderful ways. One can almost smell the salty fishy air and feel the sea breeze as one reads. Everything about the place, from the quaint diner to the tourist robbing seal boat to the seals themselves, give the reader a definite sense of place.

And can I also say, while trying to avoid outright spoilers, in a world where so many MG books feature tragically dead dogs this is a nice breath of fresh air.

I read an e-galley received from Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss. Binny for Short will be available for purchase on July 23.


  1. The first sentence was definitely all I needed! Yay! Hilary McKay!

    1. I know1 She is just so good at this.