When Newbery Honor author Carolyn Coman (What Jamie Saw, 1995) first conceived of lovable Hope Scroggins with her collaborator, Rob Shepperson, both realized early on that the waif was a character sure to resonate with young readers. What child can’t relate to a girl whose parents are so abhorrent that they simply abandon her little sister? Hope’s response—sleeping as much as possible—brings her to the attention of the Dahl-esque World Wide Memory Bank. “From the moment we entered the Bank, we were goners,” they say. “Everything about it—the Dream Vault, the Memory Receptor, Sorters, Retrospectors—engaged us. Hope simply rose to the occasion: a champion dreamer, a terrific sister, a good sport under trying circumstances.” The Memory Bank taps, albeit playfully, into one of the great childhood fears. The duo defends their premise with a good-natured shrug: “Anyone remember Hansel and Gretel? As for qualms—or not having any—we egged each other on as to how dire we’d make the opening predicament. The words and pictures set a tone for the story that’s completely over the top. True, Honey is abandoned by the side of the road—but she is instantly rescued by a gang of kids with a truckload of candy! Grown-ups may blanch, but kids get it!”
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The Memory Bank
Carolyn Coman; illustrated by Rob Shepperson
Levine/Scholastic / October / 9780545210669 / $16.99 / ages 8-12