Pearl, the Hungry Monster

The misunderstood monster

A thunderous stomping came from the stairs. THUMP! THUMP! THUMP-THUMP-THUMP! Mother and Father glanced at each other from opposite sides of the breakfast table.

“Timmy!” Mother yelled, “Stop stomping! You are going to scare the baby.” Timmy appeared on the other side of the kitchen and looked at his baby sister. She was cooing and smashing banana all over her face.

“She doesn’t look scared to me,” he said. Mother jumped.

“Timmy! You are going to scare me to death!” Mother said. Father looked at Timmy with a grumpy frown. His father didn’t like mornings and there had been far too much noise for his liking this morning.

“Tim, you can’t stomp down the stairs like that,” Father started, then scrunched up his face like scrambled eggs, “How did you get there if you just stomped down the stairs?”

“I was in the garage looking for my jump rope to take to school.” Mother and Father looked at each other in confusion.

“You didn’t just stomp down the stairs?” Mother asked.


Father walked out of the kitchen. Timmy and his baby sister looked at each other. She extended a hand with a tiny piece of not mashed banana offering it to Timmy. He took it, placed it on the table of her highchair and mashed it with his thumb. She squealed with laughter and returned to pounding any remnant of whole banana left on her tray.

“I didn’t even hear any stomping noises, Mom,” he said drinking his orange juice.

“Your father is checking. I’m sure it was just the cat.”

“Blamed for the cat’s trouble again!” Timmy said, “I told you we should have gotten a dog.”

“Timmy,” Mother said with a sour face and pursed lips. She was tired of talking about the stupid cat. Father returned to the kitchen holding a small stack of books.

“These were on the stairs. Yo-Yo must have knocked them down,” Father explained.

Mother smiled, and gave Father a peck on the check. Timmy stared at the books. They were his library books. They had been on his night stand, not at the top of the stairs, or the shelf in the hallway. Yo-Yo couldn’t have moved them that far without him noticing.

They finished breakfast and piled into the car to go to school, work, and daycare. Timmy thought about the books the whole drive.

“Don’t forget, Margo will pick you up and stay with you until I get home,” Mother said kissing the top of his head.

“Ugh, Margo,” he said to keep up his appearance of not liking a babysitter, but he thought it would be a good chance to investigate the monster who had moved his books.

Back at Timmy’s house, Pearl the monster, slithered out from underneath Timmy’s bed. She meandered the house, looking for something interesting to do or read. Yo-Yo hid in his litter box as soon as he saw her. The birds outside the window stopped chirping and flew away when she looked out. Pearl flicked through the TV channels until she found her favorite and settled in to watch until it got closer to the family’s return. She did this everyday, but she was getting tired of being left out of all the family activities and living a solitary life. She wanted to be with the family; she wanted to eat a delicious meal. She had dropped the books to get a quick peek at the breakfast table this morning. No one saw her except the baby, who giggled when she made a face.

That’s when Pearl decided she would sit at the dinner table with the family tonight. She wouldn’t say anything. She wouldn’t be loud or rude, she would just sit down like a regular family member. With that goal in mind, Pearl enjoyed the rest of her leisurely day.

Timmy sprinted from Margo’s car to the door.

“Slow down, big guy! I have the key,” Margo called.

“Why don’t you hurry up?” Timmy shouted back. Timmy actually didn’t mind Margo; she was fun and didn’t treat him like a baby. Once inside, he flung his bookbag to the floor, grabbed a snack and started investigating.

“Make sure you do your homework,” Margo said, “I know you are responsible, but you seem a bit distracted today.”

“OMKay!” Timmy said with a mouth full of crackers. He started in the basement, where he would expect a monster to life, but he didn’t find anything, just Yo-Yo hiding in his litter box. Then, Timmy scoured the main floor. Looking behind the couch and TV, checking every kitchen cabinet, and evening sneaking into Mother’s home office. Nothing! Although he was pretty sure the TV remote had been on the coffee table when they left this morning and now it was in the middle of the couch, but Margo could have moved it. Finally, he went up stairs. If the monster wasn’t in the basement, it was probably under the bed, or in the closet. That’s what all the stories said at least. He started in his baby sister’s room, then his parent’s room, and last his room. As he crawled under his bed, it squeaked, which he thought was odd, but he found nothing under the bed.

Pearl, sitting on Timmy’s pillow, watched him wiggle out from under his bed before sliding back under it herself. She thought about introducing herself to him, but decided it would be better to save her introductions for dinner tonight and only to tell her story once.

Timmy frowned, brushing the dust bunnies off his shirt, and plopping on the bed. “There is something here! Yo-yo didn’t move my books. Margo didn’t move the remote. Strange things keep happening. There is a monster and it wants something.” Timmy pondered what a monster would want. He imaged bone crunching teeth chomping down on him, drool falling from its mouth, his parents fleeing in terror. Timmy sighed, but continued imagining the monster, and went to start his homework.

Pearl waited until she heard everyone’s chair was pushed in at the table and for Father to ask the question that signified dinner was beginning, “How was everybody’s day?” She snuck downstairs without a sound, took a deep breath, and stepped into the kitchen. She smiled, but said nothing, pulled out a chair, sat at an empty place, and picked up a roll.

“Could someone please pass the butter?” she said as politely as she could.

Timmy’s fork clanged as it fell from his hand to his plate. Mother screamed, Father had already ran into the living room.

“I was right,” Timmy said, fearfully watching the monster and backing into the living room. Mother fainted, leaving the baby in her high chair. She giggled and held out a tiny hand with a Cheerio in it toward Pearl.

“Why thank you,” Pearl said taking the Cheerio and popping it into her mouth, “How generous!”

Father watched the exchange and collapsed. The baby squirmed with laughter. Pearl enjoyed the meal and her new friend, and had disappeared back under the bed before either Mother or Father came to. Timmy watched, but would never repeat the story, or sleep in his room alone again.

-M.R. Gavin

Next week’s prompt: What did you want to do when you were eleven?

Feel free to join me or suggest a prompt in the comments below!


Americanah Review

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

5 Stars

A young woman from Nigeria moves to the United States to go to college. It is the first time she has ever been black. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the story of Ifemelu, a Nigerian woman who moves to America for college, works, becomes a citizen, and then returns to Nigeria. A piece of realistic fiction, romance ties the novel together, but cultural awareness drives the narrative.

Ifemelu and Obinze are high school sweethearts with big plans to explore the world and learn together. They attend the same university and compliment each other, telling each others failures, supporting each other through challenges. Because of problems with the university, Ifemelu leaves to study in America and loses contact with Obinze. Her story focuses on the struggles she faces with her American life – inability to secure a job, lack of money for her basic needs, no friends or support system, depression. While Ifemelu struggles in America, Obinze faces many frustrations in Nigeria. He travels to London, stays as an undocumented resident until he is deported, and has difficulties finding work in Nigeria. Both characters struggle, but they also grow, learn, and develop skills needed for their future success without one another. Adichie uses flashbacks to tell Ifemelu’s story while she gets her hair braided before returning to Nigeria, and flashbacks of Obinze’s story when he receives an unexpected email from Ifemelu while working.  The story is then told in a present tense narrative after Ifemelu’s return to Nigeria. Within the narrative, Adichie sprinkles excerpts from Ifemelu’s blog. These posts provide further insight into Ifemelu’s time in America and her observations of systematic racism in America.

Americanah flows well, despite being split between present narrative and flashbacks, and two individuals. There are clear separations created by chapters, and there is never a question of what happened in the past or the present. Ifemelu and Obinze are likeable characters. The reader roots for their success and feels the pain of their suffering. However, as a white, American reader, they are very different from me and their struggles in many ways are beyond anything I’ve ever had to imagine. Despite that, many of the more simple aspects of their struggles are relatable like break-ups and job hunts. Reading about the challenges they face is eye opening, and the use of blogs to explain Ifemelu’s observations of American society has been useful in recognizing my privilege and challenging my way of thinking. Furthermore, Adichie’s writing style is easy to read and pleasant. While she tackles many difficult and deep topics, she maintains a storytelling narrative with a hint of sarcasm and matter-of-fact attitude making the content easier and entertaining to read.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is well known for her essay/book We Should All Be Feminists and the TED Talk that prompted the book. Although the content between that and Americanah are different, the tone of both is consistent. Instead of a focus on feminism, Americanah mentions feminism, but places a greater focus on race relations in America and how different Ifemelu’s American experiences is from her Nigerian life. Adichie continues to impress me as a writer who not only uses her voice to tell compelling beautiful stories, but also to shed light on the injustices that plague our world (particularly, the injustices of race based upon centuries of colonialism and oppression that continues to affect the world today).

I absolutely recommend Americanah as a must read for those breaking the injustices of systematic racism, and working to recognize their own privilege. Beyond the deeper elements of Americanah there is humor, romance tested by time and distance, and the opportunity to learn about Nigerian culture. It is a long novel at just under 600 pages, and there is a fair amount of unpacking the content, if that is one of the reasons you read it. I am so happy I picked up Americanah; I enjoyed the story, the humor, the love, the poignant observations made by Ifemelu, and her strong character guiding the novel.

-M.R. Gavin

Part 2

Reread the first segment of the story here.

Seamus stared at the empty room. Rebecca had just been there, but disappeared. He sprinted to the last spot he’d seen her looking for a door in the wall, a trap door in the floor. When he found nothing, he inspected every detail of the room looking for cameras, and mirrors that could have created the illusion of Rebecca. Still nothing. He could barely see the bright floral wallpaper behind the endless black and white pictures with every person wearing an identical stoic expression. He checked the furniture. Maybe the ottoman was a secret entrance to a hidden passageway. At last he slumped into a straight back wood chair.

She was gone. He could feel it now. He didn’t know where and he didn’t know how but she wasn’t coming back. Following her through this maze of a house had all been in vain. She didn’t want him any more, and she found a way to disappear forever. Seamus bit his lip. That wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if this really was just a big house he had gotten lost in, but he knew if the requirement for anyone entering this maze was the same as his, Rebecca was gone for good and so was he.


Rebecca didn’t feel like falling, or floating. One second she had Seamus in her sight, his mud caked boots, his warm black jacket, his concerned brown eyes, and the next she sat on a bench in a large echoey room. There was no in between, no arrival or departure, not even a blink to separate the two sights. She thought she could almost see a shadow of his figure and the room with the empty doorway. He crawled on the floor, patting the walls. Even after blinking, the shadowy image remained in the background. The room she now sat in was full of other people. The ceilings were arched, an aisle ran down the middle. This looks like church, she thought, but no one was giving a sermon. Small rays of light filtered in; Rebecca felt a warm ray settle on her face. The glare caused her to squint, but the warmth was welcoming after what felt like an endless night in the fun house. Then she heard the sound which had encouraged her through the doorway. Clearer now, she was almost positive it was singing. Rebecca looked for a choir in the church, but found none. She looked at those sitting around her but none sang. She started to stand, but couldn’t move.

This was when she noticed her clothes had changed. In the maze, she had a pair of grubby jeans, a cropped tee shirt and her old Adidas. Her hair hung loosely around her shoulders, the purple streak constantly falling into her eyes. Now she wore a black dress with white lace around the edges. Soft white gloves covered her hands. Her hair had been combed to the side and she patted her hands on her head feeling a small hat. The woman in front of her appeared to be wearing almost the exact same thing. A man to her right wore black slacks, a white button shirt, and a black tie. His hat sat on his lap – this was some sort of church after all. Looking down at her dress, Rebecca felt it had a very 1930s, 1940s feel. The dress had smooth lines, not the poof that came into fashion in the 1950s and 1960s, but still much to conservative and formal for anything she remembered in her lifetime.

No one else in the church seemed to move. Barely any person blinked; their eyes fixed forward. Every time she looked forward she could see a faded vision of Seamus scouring the room she had left. She tried not to look there. She didn’t want to think about him, why she had to leave him behind, or the place he was now trapped because of her. Instead, she looked at the people around her. Unable to get up, at least she could shift positions and take in more of the church. A man several rows behind her and to the left, a statue like everyone else, caught her eye. Rebecca recognized him from somewhere. She raked through her memories. Did I meet him in school? Did he buy me a drink? Maybe he bagged my groceries? These memories reminded her of Seamus. She looked forward to see him sitting in a chair in the room with the empty door, the room full of pictures. He must not be able to see the door she thought. Seamus lifted his head and appeared to be scanning the room. He popped out of his seat and sprang to a wall, just outside Rebecca’s line of vision. I wonder what he saw. Maybe something in one of the pictures.

The pictures! She spun her head around toward the young man again. He had been in one of the pictures, wearing different clothes, but the same stillness. Her eyes flicked around the church. There is a child she saw in a picture, an old woman, a balding man. They were all here. Everyone in the pictures sat in this church staring. Even though she had not investigated each photo or really paid much attention to them at all, she knew.

“Oh no,” she whispered realizing what had made Seamus move.

Just outside of the faded image Rebecca could see, Seamus stood, his hand caressing a new photo on the wall, his body shuddering, his eyes on the verge of overflowing. Rebecca. Staring at him in the clothes he’d last seen her in. An expression of nothingness on her face.

Check back on the last Monday of March for the next segment of this story.

-M.R. Gavin

Pax Reflection

*This reflection contains SPOILERS.*

Pax is an emotional story about a boy, Peter, and his fox, Pax. It is a journey of learning, discovery, and change. While it is an enjoyable tale, it teeters on unrealistic despite being realistic fiction.

To begin, I enjoyed the characters, especially the beautiful connection between Peter and Pax. Forced to leave Pax behind, Peter sets out on a dangerous journey to right his wrong and find Pax again. Similarly, Pax ventures to return to Peter. Both boy and fox are stalled by change. Peter’s broken leg and the friend who helps him, Vola, and Pax’s need for food and desire to protect his new friends, Bristle and Runt, slow down their search for each other.  Additionally, a war is on the verge of beginning in the exact location they need to look. Sara Pennypacker, the author, uses alternating chapters to show Peter’s and Pax’s sides of the story and their gradual changes. Peter begins to understand he doesn’t have to become like his father; Pax shifts his allegiance, but still loves Peter.

In my opinion, the structure Pennypacker uses is well done and supports her main characters’ developments. Additionally, the structure is consistent for younger readers. Peter and Pax remain connected, but each learn on their own. Pax’s storytelling is vastly different than Peter’s because he is a fox. Smells convey messages; fox conversations are short and to the point. Instinct plays a key role in Pax’s chapters. Furthermore, Pax witnesses the role of humans in a way he has never seen before – in war. The animals he meets can smell the war coming, and over the course of the book, Pax develops this sense as well. Then, Pax witnesses the horrors of war on the natural world. Humans’ war and violence kills animals, and destroys their homes, without any consideration.

While the fox chapters felt plausible for realistic fiction, Peter’s chapters were harder to believe. The human characters were fine: an angry father, a disinterested grandfather, a growing boy trying to make his way, and a hermit woman working to atone for her mistakes and find herself . Peter fears he will grow up to be exactly like his father, and feels moments of rage he associates with his dad. Vola, is a disabled veteran, who separates herself from others because she lost herself and because she is afraid she will hurt someone else. The setting of Pax is fictional, but completely realistic. The problem for me was important elements of the plot, and elements that younger readers would probably question aren’t addressed. Peter runs away from his grandfather’s house; not very unusual, except, no one looks for him. When Vola takes Peter in, she makes him write to his grandfather to tell him he is safe, but the reader never finds out if Grandpa replies at all. So it seems normal for an adolescent to run away and for the adults in his life not to know about it. At the very least, we know his grandfather doesn’t tell Peter’s father. The end makes that clear (granted his father is in the army, so perhaps it is hard to communicate, but it also isn’t that far away – Peter estimates it is 200 miles). Peter ends up on the battlefield and his father hugs him, shocked to see him. Besides not knowing Peter was missing, which I will attribute to warfare and army mail, Peter then runs through the middle of a minefield following Pax, and his father barely attempts to stop him, and doesn’t follow him. Peter’s father laid the minefield! If anyone can get Peter through it, his dad can, but no his dad watches Peter crutch away. I understand that families are complicated and lots of people do things differently than what I am used to, but this just seems odd to me.

Despite my issues with the adults in Peter’s life and how they handle his running away and turning up on a battlefield, I enjoyed Pax. The characters, Peter, Pax, and Vola are beautifully written and connected to one another, as they develop through the novel. The dual story structure with alternating chapters is effective for young readers and older readers. Finally, the illustrations by Jon Klassen added to the unique style of Pax without overwhelming it.

Have you read Pax? Do you agree or disagree with my reflections? Comment below!

-M.R. Gavin

Structuralism and Deconstructive Criticism

Structuralism and deconstructive criticism are often paired together because one cannot exist without the other. However, they are two separate approaches to literary criticism with a heavy reliance on words and their meaning within a text.

Beginning with structuralism, the critic combines elements of reader response criticism and new criticism. It is the effort to find meaning within structure. That may seem like a complicated idea or a simple idea, but the best way to look at it I’ve found comes from Steven Lynn’s Texts and Contexts. He relates structuralism and a reader’s ability to find meaning with in structure to a person’s ability to see figures and shapes in the clouds, even though we know they are more or less random. We as people, naturally process things in this way (103). In the most basic sense, structuralist criticism is a deep reading of the words in a text to find patterns and oppositions that create meaning. Binary opposites are a common element of structuralist criticism; things like “good and bad” or “happy and sad” develop their own unique meanings within the context of a given text and ultimately, create a greater meaning for the text as a whole.

Deconstructive Criticism takes structuralism and new criticism and flips them upside down. Instead of looking for a cohesive meaning within binaries or structure, deconstructivism considers how the structure fails, how it projects the opposite meaning or no meaning, and how minute details and elements could add essential meaning to a text. As opposed to looking for a unifying element like new criticism, deconstructive criticism wants to expose the inconsistencies and gaps of a text (Lynn 22). In recent years, deconstructive criticism has grown in popularity, but it is not an easy criticism to write. It requires reading a text from a structuralist and new criticism perspective, and then using creativity to see things differently. Furthermore, deconstructivism is a little absurd; things are almost always left incomplete because that is the nature of deconstruction.

In order to write structuralist or deconstructivist criticism, the writer first needs to read a text closely from the structuralist perspective. When reading from this perspective there are several things to look for:

  1. Binaries of meaning. Not just specific words that mean the opposite, but binary characters, settings, expectations, structural elements of the writing. Consider how these elements play together.
  2. Consider how words create meaning for you and develop images for you as the reader. A simple example of this is how the atmosphere or setting is presented and whether or not the words used for this match your expectations and what happens in the text.
  3. Think of the text as its own “system of meaning” (Lynn 22). How do the words, structures, and images within the text itself develop meaning?

With those elements in mind, a critic can develop and write a structuralist criticism, but with a little more thought, they can be changed to deconstructive criticism. In order to write deconstructive criticism consider these elements:

  1. Where does the text not make sense?
  2. Where are there gaps in the writing?
  3. What background or seemingly marginal elements of the text could take on an important role?
  4. How can the perceived meaning being reversed within the text?

These questions help push the readers thinking toward deconstructivism and flipping the text. As I mentioned before, deconstructive criticism can get complicated quickly, because at its core, it is the idea that meaning can be easily contradicted, taken apart, and turned around. In doing so deconstructivism tends to contradict itself, but with practice it is nonetheless a fun, creative way of looking at and discussing a text.

Check back the next two weeks for a sample of structuralist criticism and deconstructive criticism. Are there any key elements of structuralism and deconstructivism you would add?

-M.R. Gavin

Dear Mr. Stephen King,

Dear Mr. Stephen King,

Write a Fan Letter.

Dear Mr. Stephen King,

I don’t often write someone an unsolicited letter. Actually, I don’t write letters to anyone. Do you? I imagine with all of your writing, a letter wouldn’t be challenging, but not a priority either.

Anyway, I’d like to tell you a few things, and thank you for the influence you’ve had on my life. I’ve always been a reader thanks to the encouragement of my parents, and they always shared with me what they read, and talked about reading. As a kid, “grown-up” books held no interest for me, until one day my dad started talking about a series and how he couldn’t wait for the next book to be published. He told me about The Dark Tower, explaining the premise of the story, introducing me to its characters, and cementing my desire to read it – someday. Over the next few years, Stephen King become a household name held in a place of reverence with others like Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Mike Royko, who my dad loved. On a trip to the bookstore, I could find my dad near the Stephen King books. I knew about all your most recent publications and the basic plot of my dad’s favorites.

When he finally let me read one of your stories, I devoured it, The Body. It remains one of my favorites almost fifteen years later. As I entered the adult world, I lost touch with reading for enjoyment, but when I found it again, I started with The Dark Tower. Since then, my dad and I discuss your books every time we speak; I update him on my “King Journey,” he recalls whatever I am reading, since his is up-to-date on your bibliography. During the 2016 election and the campaign leading up to it, we raved over your twitter commentary. Personally, Molly, AKA the thing of evil, cracks me up.

With your role in my life and in my reading journey, I admire your writing and the way you use your voice as a public figure. Many people take on neutral roles, or decide not to learn, but from what I can see, you never stopped learning and hoping. And with that I am learning from you. As an aspiring author – I’m sure you’ve heard that a million times – I value your presence in the writing community. A writer who persisted, who has written because it fulfills you, because you need to, because you see things that need to be shared. A writer who supports other writers, especially new authors (when you shared Tomi Adeyemi’s video of seeing her finished book for the first time, I almost cried), and who is never shy about the gratitude felt toward those who support you in your writing process and your constant readers. You are the type of writer I hope to be. Writing for fulfillment, writing for joy, writing for me and if someone else finds enjoyment in it and I can make a living off of it that’s great too.

So I guess all I have left to say is thank you. Thank you for writing, thank you for sharing, thank you for giving me the creeps (I’m still having nightmares about “The Moving Finger”), and thank you for giving me hope. I look forward to continuing my “King Journey,” and my writing journey. You’ve done more for me than I know how to express express.

One of your many constant readers,

-M.R. Gavin

Next Week’s Prompt: The Misunderstood Monster.

Feel free to join, or suggest a prompt.

Pax Review

Pax Review

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

3.5 Stars

Imagine being forced to leave a beloved pet behind knowing you may never see him again and that a war is coming. Imagine being that pet. Pax by Sara Pennypacker begins with those two thoughts, leading to the mutual search by boy and animal toward each other. Published in 2016, Pax is a stand-alone piece of middle grade realistic fiction.

After being seperated, Peter and Pax work to reunite with one another, but a series of problems stall their reunion, and force each character to grow in unexpected ways. Peter is a young boy, moving because of the war; Pax is his pet fox. They are connected by a bond deeper than friendship, and have helped each other through many challenging moments of youth. After being seperated, Peter decides to run away from his grandfather’s and bring Pax home. Pax similarly begins to search for Peter. As the primary characters and telling two sides of one story, Peter and Pax alternate chapters. One chapter follows Peter, the next Pax. This structure is very effective in allowing the reader to see and understand both characters’ growth and the external factors impacting their changes.

With a realistic, but fictional setting, and great characters, Pax should be a great book, but elements of Peter and his family are difficult to believe without questioning and wanting more. His grandfather is disinterested and his father is angry, but their reactions to his running away are very surprising. Pax’s side of the story is easier to believe. He relies on instinct, and learns about his new world with caution. Both characters’ change in part because of the others they meet on their journey. Pax is greatly impacted by his new fox friends, and Peter learns things about himself and life from Vola he would have never imagined previously. Despite the surprising response of Peter’s relations, the rest of the characters help Peter and Pax in valuable ways.

Personally, I was particularly fond of Pax, and Pennypacker’s writing style in his chapters. The reader was immersed into instinct, smells, and sounds, in each of Pax’s chapters. Furthermore, Pax encourage the reader to see things in a new way: how humans impact nature, and how war impacts the lives of animals. Pax’s chapters show Pennypacker’s talent as a writer and demonstrate her creativity. Similarly, Peter’s chapters involving his time with Vola offer a deeper impact for readers, as they consider learning how to be comfortable with yourself, and the possibilities of change. In these chapters Pennypacker gives her young readers a more philosophical view, but writes using observations and examples young readers can understand.

This is the first novel by Sara Pennypacker I have read. For a middle grade novel, I enjoyed it. In some respects it is similar to classics like Old Yeller, Sounder, and Because of Winn Dixie, as each of these stories is based on the connection between a child and their pet, and each story is about growth and change. However, the alternating chapters between Peter and Pax and the illustrations by Jon Klassen make the novel unique. Pax is a novel that could be enjoyed by a reader of any age. I think middle grade readers interested in animals, wildlife, and pets would enjoy Pax. I would recommend reading it with your young reader or at least being sure to talk about the book as they read it or when they finish it. There are a number of big things to be discussed in Pax and while I trust young readers’ abilities to understand more than adults might guess, it is equally important to help them process when needed.

-M.R. Gavin