It’s October and I’ve been thinking a lot about cornfields and scarecrows since Halloween is almost here. I associate cornfields and scarecrows with horror (Children of the Corn, the short story by Stephen King anyone?).
Actually I’ve been thinking about cornfields ever since I listened to the wonderful A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty this past summer as part of the summer SYNC audio book program that pairs a YA book with a classic title.
I also recently listened to Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, a 2015 National Book Award finalist for Young People’s Literature, and currently nominated for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults and noticed that cornfields play a big part in that book too. So, although it might be more seasonal to discuss horror books, I’m going to focus on two wonderful magical tales, one with a touch of horror, instead.
Ruby deserves all the praise she’s getting for her unforgettable book Bone Gap. It’s an amazing read, and it’s also terrific on audio. Bone Gap is a town in the Midwest where Finn and his perfect, and very responsible older brother Sean live on a farm. Their mother’s left them to live in another state with a new guy. One day a beautiful woman named Roza shows up in their barn, hurt and on the run from something that she won’t talk about.
They help her and she ends up staying – until one night she’s kidnapped right in front of Finn but he can’t recall enough about the man who took her to help the police find her. Roza’s been taken to a place between – a gap – by a terrifying man who has magical powers and she must try to figure out if, or how, she can get away. At the same time, Finn and his girlfriend Petey are trying to find a way to find Roza too.
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty is also hard to describe because it also combines our world with a parallel one that’s also mostly set in the present, but with a uniquely magical and quirky aspect to it. In Cambridge, England, 14-year-old Madeleine is struggling to adjust to her new life after she and her mother mysteriously leave their rich father and their wealthy lifestyle for a more impoverished one.
Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello on a farm with his mother. His father has disappeared under strange circumstances. People think that one of the villainous colors “a third-level purple” was responsible because in Cello, colors can actually attack and kill people. Madeleine and Elliot become aware of each others existence after they begin exchanging letters through a crack between their worlds. Elliot leaves a letter in a sculpture in his world that appears in a slit in a parking meter in Madeleine’s world. As they get to know each other, events in their lives begin to intertwine.
In Bone Gap, Finn and his girlfriend Petey are attempting to write their college entrance essays and they love trying to come up with their own strange essay questions such as “Describe someone who has had the biggest impact on your life using only adverbs.”
As an ode to both of these extraordinary books, I will answer the essay that asks me to:“Describe the magical awesomeness of these books, written in a recipe format.”
6 characters (Elliot, Madeleine, Finn, Petey, Roza, Sean)
5 Rude boys
2 homeschooled teens (Jack and Belle)
2 fathers who are missing or not around
2 Princess Sisters (Ko and Jupiter)
1 chicken obsessed old man named Charlie Valentine
1 Scare Crow
1 magical horse named Night
1 magical Butterfly Child
1 parking meter
1 sculpture made of broken TVs
1 best friend Miguel
Colors that can attack people (Amaranth Cerise, Crimson, Gray, Lemon Yellow)
Quirky characters from Bone Gap
Kingdom of Cello (that includes the Farms; the Magical North; Olde Quainte; Jagged Edge
9 girls sitting on the side of the road
1 doz. Fence posts
1 Dog That Sleeps in the Lane
1 Dog as Big as a Horse
To Make First Layer:
Combine 1 parking meter and 1 sculpture made of broken TVs. Mix in Elliot and Madeleine, and then slowly stir in 2 homeschooled teens; Isaac Newton, and 2 princesses. Using a sieve, scoop out 2 fathers. Whip together a handful of sub-level dangerous Colors, and then blend a magical Butterfly Child into the mixture. Beat in Deftball; Mix well. Cook for 300 years. Result: The quirky and colorful Kingdom of Cello from A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty.
To Make Second Layer:
Combine Finn, Sean, Roza and Petey, and 1 Dog as Big as a Horse in a large vat that is propped up with 1 doz. fence posts. Mix in quirky Bone Gap characters. Stir in generous amounts of honey; Add 1 magical horse and 1 Dog That Sleeps in the Lane. Gently fold in 9 girls sitting on the side of the road and 1 best friend Miguel. In a separate bowl, chop up 5 Rude boys; and grind up 1 Scare Crow into a fine paste; season with 1 chicken-obsessed old man. Add contents of this bowl to vat. Sprinkle several bushels of cornfields over the top. Bake for 3 days. [Queen bee garnish optional]. Result: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, a magical confection full of mystery and suspense with a warm gooey center.
Combing both layers together will create an even more exquisite and magically delicious dish.
Serves: Unlimited lucky readers
— Sharon Rawlins, currently reading Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis