• Happy birthday Sylvia Engdahl (Enchantress from the Stars) and Gloria Houston (The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree).
  • It’s the birth date of Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849–1924), The Secret Garden, Carlo Collodi (1826–1890), The Adventures of Pinocchio, Yoshiko Uchida (1921–1992), The Best Bad Thing, and James Ramsey Ullman (1907–1971), Banner in the Sky.
  • Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species in 1859. On a related note, it’s Evolution Day. Read The Tree of Life by Peter Sis, Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman, and The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.
  • In 1947 The Pearl by John Steinbeck is published. Also read The Black Pearl by Scott O’Dell and Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey.

We all have at least one talent. November 24, Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day, allows all of us to acknowledge our own individual abilities. Whatever you do best, take some time today to recognize that talent.

What if you knew that on a certain birthday, your thirteenth, you would be given a special talent or ability just like everyone else in your family? That premise lies behind our Book of the Day Savvy, by Ingrid Law, one of the most original and compelling novels of the past few years. To write this book, Ingrid Law asked herself what magic would look like if it sprang up in small-town America. She wanted to create a modern American tall tale. To that mix, she added the elements of a road trip odyssey.

Every member of the Beaumont family possesses a form of magic: Grandpa moves mountains; Fish can create hurricanes; Olive melts ice with a stare; Rocket sparks electricity. But right before Mibs’s thirteenth birthday party, where she will discover her special ability, things start to go terribly wrong. Her father ends up in the hospital because of a bad accident. The day of her thirteenth birthday, she tries to visit her father by sneaking on the bus of a Bible salesman. Then her two brothers, along with two of the local pastor’s children, join her. Will Junior, in fact, has a crush on Mibs but does not suspect her family’s secret. Unfortunately, the bus heads in the wrong direction, and Mibs and her fellow passengers have the trip of a lifetime. That is, before the police start looking for them.

In Savvy, Law creates a set of unforgettable characters and a nonstop plot that she brings together seamlessly. Mibs doesn’t quite get the savvy she was hoping for—but she certainly gets the birthday celebration of a lifetime! A quick pace, short chapters, intriguing concept, and great characters keep readers turning the pages. The first chapter of the book is so compelling that even readers who pick it up by accident admit that they can’t put it down. Hence this Newbery Honor Book has become a favorite of those in grades five and up—and one of those books that young adults in their twenties also adore.

What unique talent do you have—and which one would you like? You can think about both of these questions as you savor Ingrid Law’s Savvy.

Here’s a passage from Savvy:

Settling directly between Nebraska and Kansas in a little place all our own, just off Highway 81, we were well beyond hollering distance from the nearest neighbor, which was the best place to be for a family like ours. The closest town was merely a far-off blur across the highway, and was not even big enough to have its own school or store, or gas station or mayor.

Originally posted November 24, 2010. Updated for .

Tags: Adventure, Award Winning, Family, Magic, Newbery
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Savvy


  1. Beautiful web site and lovely concept!

    Read Aloud Dad

  2. Jennifer says:

    I am thankful for you, Anita, and the work that you do here on BADA! You have inspired me and my students to read more and to find new authors and revisit old favorites!

  3. G. Perry says:

    This sounds like a great read. I can’t wait to find and read it.

    One of the talents I’m working on is to increase my awareness of things to be grateful for. According to Tal Ben- Shahar at Harvard, going over things your are grateful for in your life each night at bed time, has been scientifically proven to improve your overall mental and physical health.

    So, tonight, without thinking about it, one thing on my list will be Anita Silvey, her books, and her website.

    Happy Thanksgiving to the good lady – and all her commenters and fans.


  4. Hi Anita.
    I wanted to thank you for the workshop I attended in Calgary on Nov. 21 with you. I really enjoyed listening to the stories you shared and ideas for teaching with children’s books.
    Also, after checking out your Almanac I posted a blog to Apples with Many Seeds promoting it.
    I love the idea of having a new book recommended everyday.
    Thank you.

  5. Anita says:

    Gordon and Jennifer: Happy Thanksgiving to you both. I am thankful today for my readers and commenters.

  6. Bookjeannie says:

    Another wonderful Colorado author! Love this book! Anita, you’ve given me a great idea for an activity! I teach tech so I’m going to read the first chapter out loud to the kids then have them draw & write about a talent they have & one they want. As always, I am thankful for you Anita, book lover extraordinaire!

  7. Cindy Robertson says:

    I loved this book! The characters are wonderful that come of age and have to figure out how to deal with a future with their “unknown” savvy. As they worry about family and a society that would not understand and sometimes works against them. I will be adding this book to my list of read-alouds to read to my class.

  8. Katie says:

    I have recently read this book and loved it. Mibs is a wonderful character that a reader can connect to. There is another book called Scumble, which I am interested to read. This is a great book to read to children in the classroom, or at home. I recommend it as well. 🙂

  9. suzi w. says:

    Anita, your talent *is* for reading books. I will put a hold on this one right away. 13 is often a scary birthday (says the woman soon approaching cough cough cough in four days). Betty Miles’ “The Trouble with Thirteen” was one of my favorite “turning 13” books. I don’t even know if it’s in print anymore. I loved Betty Miles. But I digress.

    Thank you for this almanac. Though I don’t get to it every day, it always makes me smile when I do.


  10. Joanne Toft says:

    Wonderful book – love this family and all their talents!

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