Reviews for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Booklist Reviews 2004 May #2
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 7-12. Turner, the rigid minister's son, doesn't fit in when his family moves from Boston to the small town of Phippsburg on the coast of Maine in 1912. It's not only that Maine baseball is different from the game he knows; he's just plain miserable. Then he makes friends with a smart, lively young teen, Lizzie Griffin, living in a small, impoverished community founded by former slaves on nearby Malaga Island. When the town elders drive Lizzie's people off the island, Turner stands up for them, but he can do nothing. Lizzie eventually dies in an insane asylum. The novel may be too long and detailed for some readers, with every plot strand and character accounted for. But the removal of the Malaga community really happened, and Schmidt weaves that history into a powerful tale of friendship and coming-of-age, adding a lyrical sense of the coastal landscape. Characters are drawn without reverence in this haunting combination of fact and fiction that has a powerful and tragic climax. ((Reviewed May 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
In 1911, Maine officials ejected the African-American, Native-American, and foreign-born residents from Malaga Island. This historical incident ignites a rich novel that pits the powerful townspeople against the powerless islanders. Schmidt anchors this tragedy firmly within its historical setting, metaphorically connecting the natural surroundings with religion and society. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #6
In 1911, Maine officials ejected the African-American, Native-American, and foreign-born residents from Malaga Island because they feared their presence would inhibit a projected tourist business. This historical incident ignites a rich novel that introduces Turner Buckminster III, son of a Congregational minister, and Lizzie Bright Griffin, granddaughter of Malaga's preacher. Reverend Buckminster instinctively sides with the church deacons favoring expulsion, but Turner, seeing a different picture of Malaga through his friendship with Lizzie, can't reconcile the injustice of the town's actions with his father's strict code and the religious teachings he's heard all his life. Multiple conflicts, between all manner of the powerful and the powerless -- including father and son, residents and deacons, friend and foe -- create a drama that examines the best and worst of humanity. Schmidt anchors this tragedy firmly within its historical setting, metaphorically connecting the natural surroundings with religion and society, revealing a place where appearances sometimes trump, and often mask, realities, but a place where one boy can see the eye of God in both the body of a whale and the soul of a man. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 May #1
The year is 1912, and Turner Buckminster III has a mighty cross to bear: his family has just moved from Boston to Phippsburg, Maine; no one in Maine seems to throw a baseball so he can hit it; and, worst of all, he is the minister's son. His misery is just about complete until he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, an African-American girl from nearby Malaga Island, who teaches him how to hit a Maine baseball and doesn't hold his parentage against him. But the tide is turning against Malaga Island, a settlement of some 50-plus outcasts, very poor and mostly black: the good elders of Phippsburg want to replace the failing ship-building industry with tourism, and the collective eyesore that is the Malaga community will just have to go. Schmidt takes his time with his tale, spinning gloriously figurative language that brilliantly evokes both place and emotion. Turner himself is a wonderfully rich character, his moral and intellectual growth developing naturally from the boy the reader first meets. There can be no happy ending to this story, but the telling is both beautiful and emotionally honest, both funny and piercingly sad. (Fiction. 11+) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 May
Gr 6-9-From the sad and shameful actual destruction of an island community in 1912, Schmidt weaves an evocative novel. When Turner Buckminster arrives in Phippsburg, ME, it takes him only a few hours to start hating his new home. Friendless and feeling the burden of being the new preacher's son, the 13-year-old is miserable until he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, the first African American he has ever met and a resident of Malaga Island, an impoverished community settled by freed or possibly escaped slaves. Despite his father's and the town's stern disapproval, Turner spends time with Lizzie, learning the wonders of the Maine coast. For some minor infraction, Turner's father makes the boy visit elderly Mrs. Cobb, reading to her and playing the organ. Lizzie joins him, and this unlikely threesome takes comfort in the music. The racist town elders, trying to attract a lucrative tourist trade, decide to destroy the shacks on Malaga and to remove the community, including 60 graves in their cemetery. The residents are sent to the Home for the Feeble-Minded in Pownal. When Mrs. Cobb dies and leaves her house to Turner, he sets off to bring Lizzie home, only to find that she died shortly after arriving at the institution. Turner stands up to the racism of the town. His father, finally proud of him, stands with him-a position that results in the reverend's death. Although the story is hauntingly sad, there is much humor, too. Schmidt's writing is infused with feeling and rich in imagery. With fully developed, memorable characters and a fascinating, little-known piece of history, this novel will leave a powerful impression on readers.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2004 August
Turner Buckminster's father moved the family from Boston to become the minister in Phippsburg, Maine. Everything Turner does seems to be wrong in the eyes of his father and the town, and his biggest wrongdoing is befriending Lizzie from Malaga Island, a settlement of slave descendants and others who do not fit in. Despite his father's punishments, Turner continues to grow, maintaining his friendship with Lizzie and her people, and developing relationships in the community and with the sea. When church leaders plan to remove the residents of Malaga Island to develop tourism, Turner's father is called to task in their support. But Turner's conviction that this action is wrong leads his father to oppose the plan as well. Turner inherits a house in town and suggests that the families from Malaga should live there. Doing so brings out the evil in people, and events take a number of nasty and unfortunate turns, ending with a quiet, tragic reality The author bases this story on facts from the early 1900s, telling it with a lyrical style that supports Turner's steady path toward maturity while dealing with racism, religious belief, intellectual development, family ties, and loyalty. There are many subtle dimensions to Turner's progress with grace under pressure as he learns to stand up for what he believes. The strengths and weaknesses of the other characters are strongly reflected in both what they do and what they say. This excellent story reflects the challenges still faced by many contemporary young people.-Patricia Morrow 4Q 3P M J S Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.