“Laughter is good for the soul and all your interior works.” – Paulette Jiles, News of the World
Hey Savvy Readers,
If you haven’t yet got your hands on a copy of Paulette Jiles News of the World, I recommend you do it now. This book is the perfect heartwarming read to fulfill you between all of those thrillers this season. News of the World is also a finalist for the National Book Award. That’s big news, Savvy Readers!
Now, for a little bit about the story: enter 1870, in the aftermath of the Civil War. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is an aging news reader whose job is basically to travel around and give live readings from newspapers to paying audiences that are hungry for news of the world. The Captain agrees to transport a young orphan, Johanna, of the Kiowa back to her people. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister, but spared the little girl and raised her as one of their own.
Now ten years old, Johanna has been torn away from the only home she knows and must make a new life – including learning the English language and basics of life – all over again. Captain Kidd (or Kep-dun) and Johanna travel 400 miles through unsettled territory that proves to be dangerous. Moreover, Johanna attempts to escape multiple times and refuses to act “civilized”.
As the miles pass, Captain Kidd and Johanna begin to form a bond. The closer they get to San Antonio, where he is to return Johanna to an aunt and uncle she does not remember, Captain Kidd knows he has a choice to make: to abandon the girl to her fate or to become a kidnapper?
Have you ever read a book where you find a character and you’re like I WANT YOU IN MY LIFE? Captain Kidd was that for me, and probably will be for you too. He’s like the perfect grandpa/uncle/dad role model—for Johanna and readers—and you’ll miss him by the time you finish the story.
This book centers around the theme of communication. Not only is Captain Kidd communicating with the world by bringing them news, but he is also constantly working on ways to communicate with Johanna, He eventually (re-)teaches her the English language, and admires her heavy accent. These moments are captivating and precious (and also, at times, hilarious). Their touching relationship builds as they connect through languages and communication.
You’ll have to read the story to find out what happens in the end—if the Captain can bear to leave Johanna behind. You won’t regret picking up this masterpiece. A sad and happy story all the same. Captain Kidd and Johanna’s relationship is one you will want to be a part of and their journey is one you won’t want to miss.