August 13th, 2017 by Nancy
I am SO GLAD I randomly discovered Binny for Short by Hilary McKay when I was browsing the library one day. In fact, the whole 3-book series was on the bookshelf and all of the book flap descriptions sounded really intriguing… but I restrained myself by checking out just the first book in the Binny series. (It’s a known fact that it’s kind of uncool to hoard books from the library, but we all solemnly nod in acceptance if you’ve done it. It’s okay. We all give into the call of the pile-o’-books once in a while.)
Binny, short for Belinda, was 8 years old when her father suddenly passed away. Life before that was idyllic: Binny Cornwallis had her mom, her dad, her older sister Clem, her little brother James, and Max, the most perfect dog in the world.
After Binny’s father dies, the Cornwallis family is left with very little money and has to move from their house into a cramped apartment. Max is sent first to Binny’s grandmother’s home, and then to live with her grandmother’s sister: the hateful Aunt Violet, who gives Max away without first telling Binny. When Aunt Violet herself passes away, she leaves Binny her cluttered, rundown house by the sea — but it’s still bigger than a cramped apartment — so the Cornwallis family moves in with Aunt Violet’s ghost.
Oh, just kidding… This isn’t a ghost story! Or is it?! Binny feels like Aunt Violet is haunting the house, so she spends as much time as possible out and about in town: helping Kate, who runs the local cafe, or the gorgeous Liam, who drives a seal-watching boat. She makes
friends enemies (but really, friends) with Gareth, the boy vacationing next door. But even after so many years, she still hasn’t forgotten her dog, Max.
Binny for Short is a little slow-paced at the beginning, but I love feeling like I hung out with Binny all throughout her summer vacation. Hilary McKay describes the characters so perfectly in their own way: Clem could have easily been my orderly older sister, and James my imaginative younger brother. And best of all, I wanted to be friends with Binny. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels, Binny in Secret and Binny Bewitched!
Binny for Short is great summer vacation book for fans of the Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall or Summerlost by Ally Condie. The book was not just a lovely introduction to the series and the characters; there are two important plot lines in the book that eventually intersect. The story slowly unfolds over the chapters, with a very satisfying ending. I don’t want to spoil any more for potential readers, so you’ll just have to find a copy and read it for yourselves!
Nancy was camping in a seaside town when she finished reading Binny for Short; she highly recommends matching the book you’re reading to the setting you’re actually in, if possible.