Wednesday, August 25, 2010


By Ingrid Law
$16.99, ages 8-12, 416 pages

Ledger Kale never imagined he'd turn into a human sledgehammer on his thirteenth birthday and now, unless he learns to control his power to break stuff, he could lose everything his uncle has fought so hard to save.

In this dazzling companion to the Newbery Honor-winning Savvy, Law weaves a magical tale of a boy who is "dangerously different," but learns to put aside his fears and make the most of the talent he has.

Like his cousin Mibs in Savvy, Ledge is struck by a mysterious "savvy" when he turns 13, an ability to do things no other human can --  in his case, pull things apart in bits and pieces -- for starters Dad's stop watch and nose-hair trimmer.

His dad, a gifted runner with no savvy of his own, always hoped Ledge would become supersonic fast. But when it turns out Ledge's talent is busting things up, no one is prepared for how to deal with it.

Ledge is told to keep his savvy a secret so bad folks can't use it to their advantage. But destroying stuff isn't an easy savvy to hide and with a wedding to go to at Uncle Autry's ranch, Ledge had better learn fast how to keep his cool and his savvy from getting the better of him.

Learning to "scumble," or finesse his power to do what he wants it to, takes time, and it isn't long after his family takes off in a minivan from their house in Indiana toward the The Flying Cattleheart ranch in Wyoming that everyone regrets their decision to go.

Along the drive, Ledge accidentally busts engine parts and sends a tire down the interstate. Then at a pit stop in Sundance, near the ranch, he inadvertently blows apart a vintage Harley and unhinges a sheriff's truck door after tripping over the shoelaces of a girl named Sarah Jane.

Sarah Jane, a pert gal with sparkling green eyes, operates a homemade tabloid The Sundance Scuttlebutt and now that she's seen Ledge's savvy in action, she wants to make it her next big story. In no time, she's stowed away in the van and conned Ledge into letting her crash the wedding. 

But this isn't an ordinary ranch -- Uncle Autry wrangles insects not cattle -- and soon Sarah Jane is seeing far too much, like the bride floating down the aisle and radio music coming out of late Grandma Dollop's wedding jar.

Just as Ledge thinks he might distract Sarah Jane from seeing too much, Sarah Jane fools him again and shanghaies the magical jar -- Grandpa Bomba's treasured connection to grandma.

That's when Ledge discovers just how "gollywhopper weird" his savvy really is.

Fired up about being duped by Sarah Jane and panicked about losing the jar (not to mention frustrated with his twin cousins -- who use their powers of levitation to taunt him), Ledge loses all control.

Uncle Autry's barn where the reception is underway starts falling apart, and as the wedding party flees for safety, Ledge realizes he isn't just a threat to small mechanical devices, but to "the whole, wide world."

From where Ledge stands, he's let everyone down, including his moody cousin Rocket, Mib's oldest brother, who seems to want to zap him with electricity for being so daft.

It's clear to everyone that Ledge needs to lay low until he's got a handle on his savvy, and Uncle Autry quickly convinces Ledge's parents to leave him and his helmet-clad sister Fedora at the ranch for the summer.

But their departure makes Ledge feel even more like a defective misfit, and he worries how he'll ever make amends for toppling the barn and losing the jar.

Every time Ledge feels his savvy coming on (a sensation of ants marching under his skin in icy cleats and a metallic tang in his mouth), Ledge tries to run off his savvy energy.

He wants to get as far away from his uncle's insect conservatory (another barn on the ranch) as he can, for fear he'll destroy it too -- especially now that Uncle Autry's gotten a shipment of rare butterfly chrysalis.

Uncle Autry already has enough trouble. His ranch is on the verge of foreclosure. Yet he's always there for Ledge. He sends bugs to look after him on his runs and tries to help Ledge see that the key to scumbling is paying attention to his fears.

His only rule is that Ledge stay clear of Sarah Jane and her dad, Noble Cabot, who holds the deed to the ranch, though the "preteen queen of paparazzi" is hard to resist, and soon Ledge thinks she could help him stop the foreclosure.

But why is Sarah Jane's dad so bent on doing in Uncle Autry? And why are the twins rubbing Ledge's belly like he's the Buddha of good luck?

Will Ledge ever get a handle on his savvy long enough to save the ranch and get grandma's jar back to Grandpa Bomba?

Maybe, if Ledge's new friend at the salvage yard is right, he'll have to take a few things apart to make everything right.

Final Words: This is one of those books you finish, and want to race to a friend and say, "Read This!"

At one point, Ledge describes the twins' ability to levitate as being in "excess of awesome," and that's the kind of exhilarating reaction you get from reading Law's second novel.

Her words pull you into the magic of the story, and at times, hit you like bursts of wonderment. I found myself near-to-bursting, wanting to share snippets of her story aloud.

Here's the excerpt I read to my husband and that got me giggling at the end of it, even though I'd already reread it several times to myself.

Ledge is imagining what kind of savvy his 12-year-old cousin Gypsy Beaumont, with her tangle of curls and bare feet, will get on her thirteenth birthday given that she's so enthralled with butterflies.

"I pictured my cousin blowing out her birthday candles and sprouting pixie wings, shrinking down to the size of Thumbelina to spend the rest of her life living on toadstools surrounded by dandelions and daisies, farting glitter and singing kumbaya."

If you didn't believe in magical powers before Scumble, you will after reading it. Law's imagination dances on the page and makes you wonder how she ever learned to scumble her savvy for words this well.


  1. What an interesting review to read for the book Scumble. Thanks for sharing about it. What a fun book this will be to read. I like the title. Awesome cover!

    I've not read Savvy, but I think I'll have to check that one out too!

  2. As both a fan of fantasy sci fi books and great characters in mid-grade novels, I loved Saavy and can hardly wait to read Scumble. I am an author, a teacher, and a parent and Ingrid Law has the talent of writing that makes her books difficult to put down - until finished. Congratulations on the new book!

  3. I have 5 nephews and a little boy, and I love giving books for gifts, so I'm always on the lookout for good books that I could give them. I've actually had my eye on this one, and it sounds great!! I didn't realize it was book 2, though, so I'll have to check them both out!! :)
    I'm a new follower.
    bluerosesheart at yahoo dot com

  4. I can't wait to read Scrumble. I loved Savvy. I just couldn't put it down.


  5. This sounds like a wonderful book. My kids will love reading this one I am sure.

    danellejohns at gmail dot com

  6. I follow you publicly via GFC-DanelleJohnson

    danellejohns at gmail dot com

  7. Loved the review,will have to get this one!!

  8. I think my fourth graders would love reading this book.


  9. My oldest son is 8 and loves reading! He homeschools and we read for hours everyday, he would love this!

  10. I loved Savvy and can't wait to read Scumble!

  11. sounds like a great story - love the bright colors!
    june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

  12. This book sort of reminds me of my children-- they love to destroy almost anything, and I often regret getting into the minivan with them? Looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for the review!