Thursday, November 2

The Shivers in the Fridge


by Fran Manushkin
illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Dutton 2006

There's an odd family living in the refrigerator. Huddled together for warmth they tell warm stories at bedtime to stave off the chills, one day hoping their world will once again be warm. Occasionally a bright light appears, and the hand of a giant monster removes part of their refrigerator world. Then one day father is accidentally carried away when the monster reaches in and grabs him along with the foodstuffs. Then another member of the family disappears. One by one they are taken leaving only the youngest among them, a boy, who must screw up his courage and find out what happened when the monster removed his loved ones, hoping to be reunited.

Weird? Only until the "monsters" turn out to be the humans who have, one by one, discovered what happened to the family of magnets that disappeared from the front of the refrigerator. Reunited and warm on the outside the Shivers are once again a happy family.

Starting out, it's hard to understand just where the story is headed -- something I hadn't experienced in a long while. It was obvious from the start who the monsters are but not so obvious what happened once the tiny family was discovered. It was only when I got to the end that I understood the brilliance in Zelinsky's flat drawings; it's easy to overlook just how flat the family is until you know what they are. Silly me, if I'd studied the cover of the book a little more critically I'd have made the connection much sooner and not just taken for granted. Perfectly natural to see how the Shivers landed in the fridge, but not as easy to understand why they don't know who the monsters are or how to get out of the fridge sooner.

Is it too deep to suggest this might be a parable of global warming? You know, family huddled together in their ignorance, hoping some god/monster/government will deliver them into the light and warmth of it's compassion and benevolence?

Okay, so they're just some misplaced refrigerator magnets in a very amusing, if unusual, picture book.
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