Monday, September 17, 2012

Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom Book Review

Start with a neighborhood. Add residents: elderly men, young boys, a girl, a few cats, a dog--and an old woman who goes missing before we really get to know her. Add delectable food, snow, accidents and adventures and above all, add love, humor, compassion and understanding. Mix well and what you have is Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom, the new children's book by Colleen Anderson of Charleston, WV.

The story unfolds bit by bit, beginning with Mrs. Cornblossom leaving her beloved home and garden because, as she tells her neighbor's cat, "I am going to die." Where does she go? That question lingers throughout the story, weaving in and out of the activities of Toothbucket, her homely and homey neighbor, through the arrival of Inchbald who has bought Mrs. Cornblossom's house, and the antics of Nell, Ed, and Caleb who are best friends and interact comfortably and companionably with their elderly and eccentric neighbors.

What is compelling about the story is the ordinariness of life in Arlington Court after Mrs. Cornblossom's disappearance. People do the same things they always did, even though one of them has gone missing. Anyone who has experienced the sudden loss of a friend or relative knows how surreal it seems that life should go on after such a stunning event, and yet it does, because it must. Pets must be fed, houses cleaned, mail picked up. Arlington Court goes on with these activities, but beneath the the daily routine the neighbors draw closer together as they puzzle over the unlikely disappearance of their friend. They are watchful of each other's well-being. Everyone helps take care of Toothbucket when he is ill, and Inchbald provides wise listening while feeding his visitors well with fine cooking , music and the fine things of life. Even though they have lost a dear friend, the children in the story are safe in this nurturing neighborhood.

A winter walk gone awry, journal entries that seem to emanate from a mysterious source, an unfulflled birthday wish, a strange cat that lives in an abandoned mansion and over it all the joy and peace of a community living in harmony combine in a story with surprises scattered throughout its 87 pages. Missing: Mrs. Cornblossom is a quick read, and yet it is a story that will not soon be forgotten, a tale whose grace and compassion echo in the heart long after the last page is turned. This might be classified as a children's book, but readers of all ages, particularly those dealing with the loss of a loved one, will the quiet simplicity and peaceful joy of the story.

Colleen Anderson is well known for her art, poetry, songwriting and singing performances, and her occasional essays on West Virginia Public Radio. She is the author of several books including the West Virginia One-Day Trip Book and is a frequent contributor to regional and national periodicals, and with this most recent publication can now add children's author to her impressive resume.

 Available from The West Virginia Book Company or order an autographed copy directly from Anderson by contacting her at

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Mamabug said...

Sounds like a wonderful read even if it is for children!

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