Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Luck o' the Irish: Green by Laura Peyton Roberts

I threw the front door open, but no one was there, only the Douglas's Great Dane doing doughuts through Ms. Clark's
sprinkler. That was when I noticed the package lying beneath our mailbox, a brown paper-wrapped package addressed to Lilybet Green.

I had no idea who it was from. Looking back, I definitely could have devoted more thought to waiting for Mom to get home. But it was my birthday. And I started ripping.


Sparkling... Twinkling... Black.

It is Lilybet Green's long-awaited thirteenth birthday, but she isn't happy. Sad that her beloved Grandmother Green (Gigi) died just before her birthday, sad that her mom hurries of to work instead of spending the day with her, even sad that the girls in her gymnastics class smirk at her awkward attempts to do a simple roundoff, and her sometime friend Kendall seems mostly loyal to her long-time best friend Lola. So when she finds an unexpected gift on the doorstep, she hopes her luck has changed, and unexpectedly her birthday begins with a real bang.

Dazed and singed, Lily finds herself kidnapped by three tiny little men with green hair who toss her in a dark cart and spirit her off to another world--a world of leprechauns, all named Green and claiming that she, as the half-blood lepling granddaughter of their beloved Maureen, is destined to be their new Keeper of the Gold, that is, if she passes the three tests. Why did Gigi never tell her of this strange heritage?

Lily easily passes the first test of blood, using the gold and emerald key to gain access to the Keep of the Clan Green's gold, and she even manages to pass the second, with the help of one of her guards, Cain Green, capturing a piskie and exacting a wish despite its painful bites. But the final task, to steal a bag of gold from the Keep of the nearby Scarlet Clan proves harder. Lily is be-charmed by the clan's tall and handsome fifteen-year-old Keeper, Kylie Scarlet, who "clover swears" that he will secretly help her gain access to their gold cache. But as Gigi's instructions have warned her, "Lying is A-OK for leprechauns," and the charming Kylie is no exception. Lily is captured and sentenced to be imprisoned underground in Scarlet Hollow. Unless she can find a way to escape and pass her final test, Lilybet knows she will never return to her own world or see her mother again.

Laura Peyton Roberts' Green (Yearling, 2011) is all decked out in a bright new green and gold paperback edition, forthcoming just in time for this year's St. Patrick's day reading. Lily Green is an engaging protagonist, all thirteen-year-old and understandably reluctantly to be forced to come of age in leprechaun land when she's not even mastered her unruly hair and miserable social life back home. In Roberts' capable hands, however, Lily rises to the challenge, and drawing on her own resilient wits and the luck of her Irish grandmother, she proves a dandy heroine in this light-hearted but page-turning fantasy which masterfully captures the same wry but intelligent take on the fantasy world that Gail Carson Levine's Newbery Honor-winning Ella Enchanted achieves.

Lilybet Green is the right girl to go for the gold, just right for the wearing o' the Green this year or any year.

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