November 20, 2012

Tell me, Muse, of a girl on a scooter

By Ellie Rollins
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Lyssa was raised in idyllic Austin, Texas, by a magical mother who starred in the local talent show and seemed to hang the stars without a stepladder. When her mother died, life became flat and monochromatic. News that their family home is set to be demolished gives Lyssa a mission—make it from her new digs in Washington State to Austin in time to save the house, riding her dilapidated two-wheeled scooter, Zip. No problem, right?

During her road trip—it's more than fair to call it an odyssey—Lyssa encounters a range of eccentric characters who push the bounds of magic realism into the surreal. First-time author Ellie Rollins humanizes this colorful landscape with precise description. Lyssa meets an unnaturally tall woman whose hair “was gray and wispy, like it had been fashioned from dandelion seeds and dental floss.” Growing up in show business, she's naturally unfazed by the craziness that unfolds while she desperately tries to get home, navigating through gender-flipped singers, a restaurant flood, burlesque mermaids—the list goes on. Watch out for the whirlpool in the Motel Charybdis' hot tub (just a friendly warning).

Zip is a genuine treat, a classic retold with freshness, humor and heart. Kids who are familiar with Homer’s Odyssey will be amazed at how the same story can translate into present-day life in the U.S., and those who haven't read it will enjoy the adventure and be well primed to tackle the source material later. Under all the mythology, there's also a moving story here about grief, love, loss and what makes a home a home. Don't let Zip pass you by.

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By Ellie Rollins
ISBN 9781595145703

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