Read Figgs & Phantoms by Ellen Raskin Online


Mona was miserable. You would be too if your family consisted of: Sister Figg Newton (Tap Dancer, Baton Twirler, and also your mother); Truman, the human pretzel (your uncle); Aunt Gracie Jo, the dog catcher, and her son, Fido the Second. To name a few. The only person Mona really gets along with is Uncle Florence, the book dealer. And he keeps hinting that he may have toMona was miserable. You would be too if your family consisted of: Sister Figg Newton (Tap Dancer, Baton Twirler, and also your mother); Truman, the human pretzel (your uncle); Aunt Gracie Jo, the dog catcher, and her son, Fido the Second. To name a few. The only person Mona really gets along with is Uncle Florence, the book dealer. And he keeps hinting that he may have to leave Mona soon to go to Figg family heaven, a place referred to as "Capri." But where is Capri, and why do all the Figgs go there? To find her uncle, Mona knows she must find out....

Title : Figgs & Phantoms
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780844671536
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 152 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Figgs & Phantoms Reviews

  • evelyn
    2019-03-11 06:32

    I've read this book many many times and have the ampersand from it tattooed on my wrist. Yet somehow I never realized how terrifying this book is. Also, there is truly no other book quite like this. Amazing.

  • Cheryl
    2019-03-19 09:44

    Maybe when the Newbery club gets around to the year this was honored, and I reread it, I'll appreciate it better. Now I see a dark, surreal, artsy fable. I admire it, but I really don't like it. But I feel I should, even could, in the right frame of mind, with the right discussion mates.The original (?) cover is brilliant. A B&W faceless tween girl, holding a pink and orange miniature desert island, complete with palm tree and Uncle Flo. The other covers that I see here are nonsense and to be avoided; cover them while reading if you do read from them.

  • Ashley
    2019-03-03 08:59

    This book was originally reviewed on my blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.Figgs and Phantoms by Ellen Raskin won the Nebery Honor in 1975. Four years later, she won the Newbery Award for The Westing Game. I read The Westing Game several years ago, and I really enjoyed it. It was wonderfully complex and the characters were simply delightful. (More on that later). So, I was actually quite excited to read Figgs and Phantoms.Alas... Figgs just didn't work for me.. It was quite the disappointment. I started this book, not really knowing what to expect about the story itself, but looking forward to it, because I had so enjoyed The Westing Game. Sigh.Figgs and Phantoms is about a family, The Figgs, who are all wildy quirky, except the youngest daughter/niece, Mona. She is decidedly normal, hates her family's weirdness, and is terribly embarrassed by what she believes the people of her town, Pineapple say about all those crazy Figgs.I thought that Raskin was trying too hard with this novel, and as a result she missed the mark just about everywhere. Every single character has something weird, wacky, crazy, or unbelievable about them. All of them, except Mona. (She's just bitter about life and everything in it. Rather than make her quirky, I'd say she's just a teenager.) It got to be a little bit too much for me. Her mom, Sister Figg Newton (Newton being her married name) tap dances. All the time. Everywhere. Her uncle Truman, the human pretzel and sign maker (but horrible speller). And the list goes on and on and on. There was too much for me to believe it. Sometimes I'd look at the book and want to shout at the author- Enough already! I get it! They are weird. Can we move on please?!- Or something like that anyway...The majority of the book focuses on Mona and her angst. I think it's supposed to be about her struggle to find her place in life, and accept her family as they are but it always just felt like angst to me, and not the good, realistic kind. Just the really annoying, get over yourself already type. Raskin makes hints about what she is supposed to be learning, and she gives us subtle clues here and there, but by that point, I was so fed up with Mona's whining and general annoying-ness that I didn't care. I just wanted the book to end. The only person Mona feels close to is her Uncle Florence. Everyone else is ridiculous, embarrassing and needs to just stop so that Mona can stop feeling embarrassed to go out in public. But, Uncle Florence is sick, and getting sicker.The Figgs believe that when you die, you go to a place they call Capri. It's been written about in a journal passed down the family. The family meets together periodically for a night of reading from the family journals about Capri, a ritual they call 'Caprification'. Mona, or course, barely participates but when her uncle Florence dies (not really a spoiler, because it gives strong and obvious hints on the back cover) Mona knows she must find Capri so she can either bring her uncle back, or live with him in Capri. Even more weirdness ensues.Nothing in this book was very believable to me. I had a hard time believing that much of what happened, and in the order or way they happened would be possible. Very often we were taken from point A to point F and just expected to believe that this was the natural progression of events, never mind the fact that we missed points B-E in the process.On a positive note, I did enjoy several of the characters and their quirks, especially in the beginning. The secondary characters are often delightfully fun and I actually really enjoyed their time on the page. Truman's misspellings were fun (even one sign where he misspells his own name) and I especially liked the idea of Romulus and Remus Figg, the Walking Book of Knowledge and the Talking Adding Machine, respectively. I did wish the secondary characters had been more a part of the novel, and had been more fleshed out. I don't think I would have been as annoyed by the amount of quirks these characters had it they had also had more personality. But no. They were written as if their unique trait was all there was too them. It was how they were defined, described, and we didn't get to see any more than that. I do recognize that much of this is probably because that is how Mona sees them, but knowing why doesn't make it any less annoying.All in all, I'd probably say this is one to skip. I don't know that I would really recommend it to very many people. I read it because I enjoyed The Westing Game, and because, as you (should) know, I'm trying to read the Newbery list. But, it's one I feel I could probably have done with out. There wasn't anything really special about it. The rating came really easy too. I finished the book, looked at it a moment, and then said- Meh.

  • Mary-Liz
    2019-03-02 07:51

    I wish Raskin hadn't bothered with the silly names "Figgs" and "Newtons." It detracts from the story, which is very profound, bordering on the philosophical--about a girl's coming to terms with the death of her favorite uncle. Raskin's fond of making little inside jokes and puns on pop culture, but most of the pop culture references are sadly outdated. There are allusions to songs that were on the "Hit Parade" in the 1930s and 1940s and laudatory references to the works of Joseph Conrad -- not that Conrad was a bad writer, necessarily, but how many people outside of graduate literature classes read Conrad anymore? I'm not sure most undergrads read Conrad--except for Heart of Darkness and that seems old, old, old now.Too bad about the contrived names and the punning. It's almost as if Raskin was ashamed to tell a straight story about how children deal with loss. But she was such a good writer, she should have trusted herself more. This edition has lovely illustrations from Raskin. Each page is a treat to look at.

  • Jada
    2019-03-10 02:42

    To say that I really like Ellen Raskin’s "The Westing Game" is an understatement. I adore that book. So when I got copies of two other Raskin books ("The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel)" and "Figgs and Phantoms") in a giveaway, I had great expectations…and while these other books exhibit her signature style (and illustrations), they are not in the same league.While she lives in an eccentric world, Mona, daughter of Sister Figg Newton and Newton “Newt” Newton still deals with preadolescent difficulties. She is embarrassed and often annoyed by her zany parents. She feels that the only person who understands her is her uncle, Florence Figg.Uncle Florence hints that he is soon to leave this world but Mona doesn’t want him to leave her with “a tap-dancer for a mother and an incompetent used-car dealer for a father.” The Figgs descend from circus performers and have their own personal heaven they call Capri. Mona finds her way there to search for her beloved uncle and readers can decide whether Mona is dreaming or if her spirit is actually in Capri when she passes out.Each writer creates a world and Raskin creates peculiar ones with lots of clever wordplay where loving families are made up of eccentric characters—some related and some not. Children trying to figure themselves out in these books deal with sometimes immature adults—another hallmark of children’s literature. While there were a few slightly dated and/or not politically correct notions floating through "The Westing Game," Raskin’s earlier books exhibit even more of these themes. And at times the quirkiness and whimsy is a bit much.Read more of my review on my booksploitation blog.

  • Matt Youngbauer
    2019-03-09 04:58

    Some critics have called it her masterpiece, yet there are reasons why it is less fondly remembered. A quick search of Goodreads shows readers who love it, hate it, and just think its weird. Much less accessible than her other mysteries, "Figgs and Phantoms" is a dark book that examines a lonely girls searching for a reason to live. A curious protagonist, Mona Figg is the youngest member of the extended Figg family, an eccentric group of former circus performers, book collectors, car salesmen, tap dancers, sign painters, and tour guides; all seen as “failures” by the town. Already desperately unhappy, tragedy strikes when her beloved uncle Florence Figg health begins to fail and he threatens to leave her for Capri. “What is Capri?” you ask? Well naturally that’s where the Figg Family believes they go after death. The question for much of the book is “what will Mona do if she believes he Uncle has left her?” Dark and mysterious, the book is propelled along in Raskin’s tight prose; it’s amazing how much she is able to put just 150 pages. Life, death, Joseph Conrad, Figgs (the fruit), along with Raskins signature word play. Recommended for sophisticated readers 10 and up. Although it may be a less straightforward “mystery,” it is perhaps her most ambitious work. Not recommended if your a new reader to Raskin, look to her other three novels for a good introduction. That being said, for the right reader, this one is special. (I paraphrased an old blog post I wrote, which has more on Ellen Raskin and can be found here: http://lookingglasslibrarian.wordpres... )

  • Amber
    2019-03-15 09:55

    Figgs & Phantoms was and wasn't what I expected. I thought it would be quirky and funny, and it was. I didn't expect it to mention pornography or have a discussion about the highly-charged "N"-word. (And Raskin doesn't abbreviate it. However, the context is the main character's horror of it being used in the title of a Joseph Conrad novel.)The book was whimsical and zany, but it managed to be more complex and grown-up than I expected--both silly and smart.I also loved the typography. There are reproductions of signs, documents, asides of the townspeople interspersed with the regular text (like a Greek chorus), and artwork by the author on the part openers.

  • Christy
    2019-03-18 09:58

    Mona was miserable. You would be too if your family consisted of: Sister Figg Newton (Tap Dancer, Baton Twirler, and also your mother); Truman, the human pretzel (your uncle); Aunt Gracie Jo, the dog catcher, and her son, Fido the Second. To name a few. The only person Mona really gets along with is Uncle Florence, the book dealer. And he keeps hinting that he may have to leave Mona soon to go to Figg family heaven, a place referred to as "Capri." But where is Capri, and why do all the Figgs go there? To find her uncle, Mona knows she must find out.

  • Jen
    2019-02-24 09:39

    I was interested in reading more of Raskin's books after reading The Westing Game and after reading reviews of other books my boys and I have been reading where people made comparisons to Raskin. I loved the first half--super quirky, weird characters (the main character's name is Mona Lisa Figg Newton. You gotta love that!) She comes from a crazy family of Vaudeville performers, every one with their own crazy names, quirks, and place in the community. There are all sorts of mysteries about all of them; you can't wait to find out the why's behind them. But for the most part, you never do.The second half though more into a child's dealing wtih death. It goes from quirky weird, to just weird. Or a 70's acid trip. It just went downhill for me.

  • Susan
    2019-03-24 01:50

    I don't know. This was disappointing. I think of The Westing Game as a masterpiece and because this novel was published several years earlier, perhaps Raskin just hadn't really achieved full maturity as a writer yet.I want to reread it as the beginning was very boring to me and I think I missed some important plot points, but the story was brimming with so many interesting ideas about books and what exactly they mean to different people (is it an escape? is it a business venture?) that just weren't developped fully and instead we were just given too much of the quirky and offbeat.Grade: B-

  • Sara
    2019-03-17 03:41

    The positive: Funny and heartbreaking and meaningful. Seeing the good and the bad in your family instead of only one or the other, understanding the naturalness of death, forgiving the people who've accidentally (and unknowingly) caused you pain.The negative: The second half is most people's least favorite, because it is in some ways a departure from what came before. I loved it, though.The summary: I love Ellen Raskin. In both this and The Westing Game, she gives so much respect and depth to her child characters, while also keeping them flawed and sad and strange, like children really are. Just a fantastic read if you have the right sort of temperament.

  • Collette
    2019-03-10 04:47

    And interesting novel in terms of its time period: it seems that Raskin was influenced by 70s psychedelia. I felt like the search for "Capri" was one long acid trip.They mystery in this novel was very shallow...I kept looking for clues and was waiting for the solution to be revealed. And as one reviewer pointed out, this book was not very funny. It seems somewhat incomplete, as though it was a first draft.

  • Sara
    2019-03-17 04:30

    Talking about Joseph Conrad made me remember this book. Run and get it for your child (or you) immediately. I think Wes Anderson had to have read these. All Ellen Raskin's books are beyond brilliant.

  • Susann
    2019-02-24 02:55

    It's no The Westing Game (5 stars!), but any Raskin is worth a read. Mona's grief is real and sad and scary. The "dream" sequence in the second half of the book is a little much for me, but I can see how it would appeal to others.

  • Surly
    2019-03-22 03:53

    You know how the elders in your life will sometimes just offload whatever they have on hand to the younger generations? My spouse and I have learned that there's only one answer to that question: why yes, of course we'll take [that item/box/pile], what a generous offer and of course we'll make use of it! But that often winds up the preamble to hauling the [item/box/pile] to the garbage or, if we're feeling sufficiently generous with our time, Goodwill.One such offload was a bag of (mostly) books that included this Newbury Honor recipient. The blurb was intriguing and hey, it's won a prestigious literary award! What does it take to land one of these in YA anyhow? That question comes up because Figgs is not quite young adult literature and would never be tolerated as non-young adult literature.The story is about an extended family of twee white people with suitably precious and eccentric habits. That's not quite as annoying as it sounds; at its best YA provides the reader someone to identify with, and subject to the prior critique about only the white people, there are some interesting, identifiable character types here. And the heroine Mona Figg is relatable, has an authentic emotional life, and is not treated as a cheap or superficial teen-girl stereotype.Yet the story doesn't quite work as a unitary narrative. Raskin experiments with short chapters consisting of even shorter vignettes. It adds to the cuteness without depth or crossing the line to satire. If this were adult fiction such tactics would be quickly dismissed as cheap. But would this help engage younger readers? Only if younger readers are particularly interested in plumbing Joseph Conrad. Or spending the entire third act on a sometimes psychedelic vision quest. Too cute to be adult, too pretentious to be YA.With that critique, parts of Figgs are truly moving. This is a coming of age story, and Mona's transformations (some of which border on disturbing) are risky but authentic. I have no doubt that some readers would love Figgs and Phantoms. But I can't recommend the book outright.

  • Tammy
    2019-03-16 02:35

    I’m not sure if this review is going to be of this woefully overshadowed novel or of my own state of mind over the last 109 days. Death is all around us, obviously, and often a subject or theme in our works of art, but never are you more aware of it than after you have experienced a particularly painful loss in your own life. Since the death of my father, I’m pretty sure that every single thing I’ve read has engaged with a deeply significant death. And fathers, I’ve encountered dead fathers everywhere. Sadly, none have them have moved me forward in my grieving in the way I expected literature to do. But Ellen Raskin, people. Will someone build a statue of Ellen Raskin in my front yard? Let’s put aside the perfect fact that one of the characters is named Florence Italy Figg. The way Raskin deals with death, the unbearable loss of a father, and the power of narrative to explain or even create life is as good in its context as Faulkner and Morrison, my all-time favorite geniuses, in theirs. I don’t even think this statement is my usual hyperbole (although I cannot lay claim to a sound mind right now). What was this Newbery winner the year this beautiful absurd masterpiece was only an Honor book?

  • John
    2019-02-24 06:41

    First encountered this book in elementary school in the late 1970s while burning through the list of Newbery books. It stuck with me, but, couldn't remember the author or title. Wasn't that hard to find it though; not so many YA books about rare bookstores or Joseph Conrad fetishes.After re-reading, must say this was darker and more thought-provoking than I remembered. Many reviews talk about the big shift between the halves of the book and I agree. But in the end was still happy to revisit.

  • Maria Rowe
    2019-03-16 01:46

    • 1975 Newbery Honor Book •I was excited to read this because I really love "The Westing Game", but this is one strange book. I was really thrown off by the odd names, and just the whole oddity of the family. So it went from a weird book with quirky characters in the first half, to Mona dealing with her uncle's death in the second half. It went from weird to depressing. Something just wasn't working for me in this book... It almost feels like a first draft. I also wasn't thrilled that Mona's cousin looking at porn, and Mona stealing. A disappointing read for me.

  • Matthew Hodge
    2019-02-22 06:37

    I'm a fan of Ellen Raskin but this one was tough. A slight tale which does have a great deal of underlying sweetness and sadness but is buried in so many absurd and strange characters that it never quite connects.My kids might have liked it a bit better - I read it out loud to them - but they weren't jumping up and down at the end.

  • Tamara
    2019-03-11 09:54

    This is a quick read with quirky characters. What has endeared this book to me is how it allows the reader to experience the grief the main character experiences. I loved the message of grief and acceptance of oneself and family members.

  • Patrick Aland
    2019-03-17 08:44

    Not quite as good as Westing Game but still greatNot quite as good as Westing Game but still great. It’s a good UCF read and does have a little adult content in it but me and my kids loved reading this one.

  • Sarah Kochert
    2019-02-28 08:58

    only finished it because I was reading it aloud to my oldest and she insisted we continue because she said it was weird and different. Definitely those things, but not good weird/different for me. I don't see how this was a Newbery book.

  • Shannon
    2019-03-20 08:31

    A strange book but a fun fast read. Reference is made to pornography - no descriptions or the like, just mentions it.

  • Kaitlin Smith
    2019-02-23 05:35

    This is a weird book about a quirky family that somehow is an excellent discussion about family and death.

  • William Leight
    2019-03-12 06:41

    The prejudice that holds that a book cannot be worthwhile unless it treats of serious and realistic subjects in a serious and realistic fashion is thankfully on the wane these days, though it remains powerful: don't hold your breath for Neil Gaiman's next novel to be shortlisted for the Pulitzer or the Booker. Still, genre fiction has come a long way, so the next step is, I feel, for the literary merit of children’s books to be more widely recognized. While some children’s books (I refer here to books for kids roughly 10 and up, or whatever age you were when you first read, say, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe") are indeed too simple-minded to hold the interest of an adult, the good ones are not. There are some adult concerns that they don’t touch on, but very few books attempt to cover all aspects of life. It is true that the structures of children’s books are in general simple and straightforward, their language isn’t overly complex, and they are relatively easy to read, but the same thing is true of, for example, Dickens and Austen. And of course interesting characters and fascinating stories appeal to readers of all ages: just because the book in which they come is designed to be accessible to children as well as adults doesn’t make it any less worth reading.All of which is a roundabout justification for my decision to reread “The Westing Game”, and then upon discovering that Ellen Raskin had written three other books, to read those as well (not that this was a very time-consuming project: all four books are short and read easily). “The Westing Game” is of course a long-standing classic, a brilliantly devious little mystery featuring a large group of characters who search for the killer of the mysterious and wealthy Mr. Westing following rules he laid out in his will. Though we really only get to know a couple of the characters well, all are given enough depth, and enough secrets, to be interesting and to keep the plot moving. And even though I remembered the solution to the mystery, I still found it highly readable, which is a sure sign of quality. For the most part, Rankin plays it straight: there are occasional jokes but in the main Rankin concentrates on freely distributing clues, red herrings, hints of the mysterious past, and all the other ingredients of a classic murder mystery, only with a final twist that I don’t think Agatha Christie ever thought of. Rereading a book as in adult, you often discover new things about it: in this case, I found, to my surprise, that “The Westing Game” is also a paean to America as a melting pot, as well as an endorsement of what politicians like to call the free enterprise system (I can’t go into details without ruining the mystery, though). Presumably a combination of these factors led to it being awarded the Newbery, which it certainly deserved.Interestingly, though, "The Westing Game" is completely unlike any of Raskin's other books, and anyone who goes into “Figgs and Phantoms” hoping to read something similar is going to be disappointed. "Figgs and Phantoms" is, quite frankly, a weird book, one that really represents, I think, Raskin getting her feet under her as a writer. Unlike her other books, this one has no mystery: instead, it has a long, vaguely psychedelic scene in which the main character, Mona, takes something sort of like a dreamwalk in an attempt to join her dead uncle in Capri, which is not the physical real-world place but rather a sort of heaven that her family members believe they will go to when they die. Said family members are the former members of a vaudeville troupe who still follow their old trades as much as possible, even thought they are now firmly settled in Pineapple: for instance, there’s a running joke about the constant parade of unlikely groups — girl scouts, firefighters, etc. — coming to take tap dancing lessons from Mona’s mother. The plot, such as it is, is driven by the fact that Mona is ashamed of her flamboyantly theatrical family: the only one who she really respects is her uncle Florence, who has quit his theatrical life (he was a midget whose child star act didn’t age well) to become a rare book dealer. The first part of the book, essentially, consists of our introduction to said family members: the second part is the dreamwalk, when Mona, devastated by her uncle’s death, attempts to rejoin him in Capri, but ends up instead reconciling herself to her life and her family in the real world. The book has an appealingly off-beat quality to it, but most of the characters are just sketches, the plot is minimal, and the dreamwalk sequence doesn’t quite work. As a first effort it’s not bad, but it doesn’t measure up to the later books.

  • Josiah
    2019-03-10 08:45

    Well now, this certainly is something different. Author Ellen Raskin has been known for decades as someone willing to tinker a little bit with the standard novel structure, telling her stories in ways that don't always stick to conventional print techniques. Her greatest triumph in this vein was probably The Westing Game, winner of the 1979 Newbery Medal, but Figgs & Phantoms has its moments of innovative storytelling that clearly mark Ellen Raskin as the intelligent writer that she was. The novel is centered on the doings of the Figg and Newton families, which intermarried a generation or two back and are now seen by the other residents of the town of Pineapple as being more or less one big family. They are a show business bunch, mostly, though Mona, the main character in the book, and her Uncle Florence, who has retired from performing, have their own outside interest as collectors of rare first edition books, and they'll go to some zany extremes to get their hands on the hard-to-find copies.Mona's family is a generally odd group, for sure, but ever since her Uncle Florence has begun looking unwell as of late, a particularly unusual Figg concept has been high up in the family's thinking. When Figgs die they say that they are going to a place called "Capri"; they don't know how to get there or even for sure what it will be like when they arrive, but arrive they surely will, since no Figg reaches the end of this life without finding this esoteric "Capri." The family members all spend most of their individual lives trying to discover their own paths to "Capri", but there will be no reaching the ultimate solution until the right time has come for each of them. All of the Figgs and Newtons are worried about Uncle Florence, who is loved by everyone (even the Pineapple townsfolk are fond of him, whereas they barely tolerate most of the family), but Mona is worried most of all. She shares much more in common with Florence than with her parents or anyone else in the family, and she's not ready to say goodbye to her uncle and let him meet the final embrace of his own personal "Capri." She still needs him very much in her life right here, and she's determined not to let him go to the other side. What Mona doesn't know is that she is about to find out some of the realities of the esoteric "Capri" for herself, and in the very near future. She won't be able to find out everything about the mysterious place while she remains on this side of the living, but she is about to embark on an unforgettable adventure that will show her more about "Capri" than any living Figg has ever known before. Figgs & Phantoms is a remarkably strange book, in many ways. It's often hard to tell whether what's happening in the story is supposed to be more on the funny or sad side, but I guess that's a good reflection of real life, at times. Not every occurrence that one encounters in life will fall into one category or the other, and it can sometimes be difficult to ever completely understand the deeper realties of one's own life. Figgs & Phantoms is an interesting story on the whole, worth reading for anyone who likes quirky, offbeat novels that teach the reader to always expect the unexpected.

  • Jada
    2019-03-05 08:54

    If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be...strange. I've read two of Ellen Raskin's other juvenile fiction books: The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues and one of my all-time favorite books, The Westing Game. I was expecting this book to be kind of like wasn't. This book is about a girl named Mona Newton who has a slightly crazy, definitely odd, former showbiz family. Her mother was a Figg--yes, they're Figgs and Newtons--and her family believes in an island called Capri, which is a kind of paradise or Heaven that you can go to if you figure out the secret of where it is located and how to get there. Mona is very close to her Uncle Florence, and is angry that he is talking about going to Capri. That's kind of all the non-spoilery stuff there is to say about this book, so the summary ends there.I read some reviews that said they enjoyed the first half of the book about Mona's family and their life in the town. I agree with that, to an extent. Mona's family was definitely interesting, and knowing some of Raskin's other characters that was no surprise. However, I felt like their belief in the mysterious island of Capri was a little far-fetched. I mean, a secret family Heaven that you can get to by dividing 1 until it becomes 0?(Just one possibly possible way of reaching Capri.) It was weird, but they were all pretty weird, so I just went with it.My real problem with this part of the book was kind of Mona herself. She seemed surly and at odds with everyone--except her Uncle Florence--for no reason. I especially thought her interactions with her cousin Fido (yes, he's human) were strange. At first I thought Raskin was throwing in some weird cousin romance, and once I found out what Mona really thought Fido wanted to ask her I still thought it was weird. Another comment she makes to him near the end of the book was also strange to me--I just didn't really understand their dynamic. Mona's dynamic with all of her family members was confusing. Like I said, she seems angry with everybody and I never quite figured out why.The second half of the book just gets crazy. I don't want to give any spoilers, but I'll say that things take a turn for the surreal. This part of the book just kind of seemed like it came out of nowhere (much like a certain leopard I could talk about), and it threw me for a loop. It was definitely unexpected, I'll give you that.I really, really wanted to give this book at least 4 stars, just because I've loved her other books so much, but it was a little too out there for me. I never really felt connected to Mona or her family. I really didn't even like her, to be honest. I know many people like this book, and I hope this review doesn't offend them. To each their own. I didn't hate this book, but--for me--it didn't even come close to the other books I've read by Raskin.

  • Lynette Caulkins
    2019-03-03 03:45

    I would rate this very unusual book quite a bit higher, but for two things being present in an acclaimed children's book: 1) What is with the apparently author-condoned, though protagonist-scorned pornography issue of her cousin? (Was that supposed to be a calling-out against it if taken at the face value of Mona's disgust, or taken at the emotional sensing of the author saying - what? - good people are flawed and we should overlook their faults? Sorry - not accepting that particular fault in light of today's issue with women being bashed so blatantly and with impunity); and 2) What is with portraying stealing as being perfectly OK? I may sound like a prude to some of you, but the insane mess our society is in right now, with uncontrolled protesters destroying property and blocking people from medical help after an election between two despicable calibers of candidates, could use a huge shot of raised standards and respect. Outside of those two messed-up considerations, this is one of those books that engages your mind, giving you vivid characters and scenes, and taking you through an everyday, yet classic, teen-angst experience. Mona's egocentric pouting about being in a family that embarrasses her, and her un-matured dealing with the loss of her closest relative could be very dark in another author's hands. Raskin's unusual structural approach to writing, her more than quirky characters, and infusion of humor transform this particular telling of some of Life's difficulties into a powerful coming-of-age story that gives your mind plenty to mull over. Plus, you get a whole, new, wacky perception of life after death - take or leave it as entertainment or philosophy.

  • Treasure
    2019-03-13 07:46

    A reissue of the 1974 Newbery Honor winner, Figgs and Phantoms tells the story (dubbed “a mysterious romance or a romantic mystery”) of Mona Lisa Figg Newton, a misfit living in fictional Pineapple, with her crazy family, both the Figgs and the Newtons. The only person she feels that understands her is her Uncle Florence (Italy, of course). But when he suddenly departs for what the family believes to be their afterlife on a place called Capri. Florence is determined to find him and goes on a journey of literature, music, and self-discovery.While that sounds all fantastic and magical, the book itself is dated. There is a definite psychedelic tinge to the story, and topics such as sex, pornography, and racial slurs are mentioned (the N word is used). Additionally, younger kids may not get silly names and puns (will they laugh at her uncles named Remus and Romulus?). Adults may pick up the book due to the Newbery Honor Medal on the front, but may very well be taken aback by the language and topics covered. With so many other wonderfully magical books available to kids today, this one should be far down the list of choices, despite being a Newbery.(Reviewed for Puget Sound Council)

  • Laura
    2019-03-14 09:33

    Mona Newton's life is a trying one: she's constantly embarrassed by her flamboyant family, the Figgs, and really only connects with her uncle Florence. Together they form the Figg-Newton Giant, who appears once a month to steal books from the top shelf of Ebenezer Bargain's book store, and then walk slowly back to Newton "Newt" Newton (aka "Dad")'s used car lot. The Figg family follows a strange religion, one based on finding a mysterious island, Capri (not the one we all know). Several of the Figg forebears have found it, leaving behind notes that the family reads out in a monthly ritual. Florence is preparing to leave for Capri himself, much to Mona's dismay. When he does finally leave - or die, as the rest of the world sees it - Mona is distraught and, in her grief, she manages to visit Capri for a little while.I wouldn't call this magical realism for kids, but it's close. The oddness of the Figg-Newton clan, the concept of Capri, and the interjections from the people of Pineapple (the town in which this all takes place) might confuse younger readers but if they stick with it they should enjoy this reprint.ARC provided by publisher.