Flashback Fridays: The Eyes have it . . .
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
You’re a girl who has lived her whole life with a secret. You can move things with your mind. And it only causes trouble–just like your strange silver eyes. But then you learn that there might be others out there like you, that you might not be the only one . . .
Do you remember:
The Girl With the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts (Scholastic, c1980)
I am forever grateful to teachers who keep piles of books around the classroom for children to discover. That’s how I came across this book in my third grade year. I was a book-hungry reader who grabbed anything with an interesting cover or title. I read a huge amount of stuff that was sitting in the classroom, and thus I found this intriguingly titled paperback sitting among the others. Silver eyes sounded cool. Silver eyes and special powers? Right on the mark.
This is the story of Katie Welker. Katie’s struggled with being different her whole life, her strange silver eyes and the weird things that happen when she gets emotional or angry have branded her as different. She’s been a bit of a trial for her mom to raise, and caused problems wherever they’ve lived. She mostly just wishes she had friends, that she was normal and didn’t have to worry about people labeling her and thinking she’s possessed or some such thing. And then Katie discovers her strange eyes and powers may not be unique. That there are other kids out there who might be like her. So she starts trying to reach out to them, to find out more. Meanwhile she has to deal with pushy strangers who seem over-interested in her, and hostile neighbors who are convinced she’s nothing but bad news.
It’s a crazy wonderful thing to be special and unique. Almost all of us want and crave that to some degree, as kids and as adults. But we also want to fit in, be accepted, have friends. It’s painful to be so different you find yourself alone and isolated. Katie fed both those desires in the kid-me. Long before I read Matilda or encountered the X-Men, there was this book. Katie is a telekinetic, able to move things with her mind. Her power, as it comes to light in the story, is the result of a drug trial that was conducted. Katie’s mom and a few other moms took the drug while they were pregnant, and the strange powers and silver eyes were the result. Adult me looks back on this now and realizes that at the time there were the very real-life stories of children of thalidomide coming to light. Their plight was caused by a drug used during pregnancy–and the results were anything but good. Katie and her friends face a rather better and brighter outcome by far.
I admit this book has remained in the “love” category for most of my kid and adult life. I’ve sought out copies and I’ve been delighted to see it recently reprinted with a gorgeous new cover. That said, this is a pretty young read, and it’ll probably work best with kids just beginning to encounter chapter books and longer stories rather than more sophisticated readers. Katie herself is only ten years old, so this is really a book for the 7-9 year-old crowd.
In books about psychic powers, these powers are more mystical or a sort of magical wish fulfillment. Willo Davis Roberts deliberately takes a science fictional approach, tying the powers to the use of an untested drug rather than any kind of magical forces. This was, in fact the book that introduced this brand of psychic ability to me and made me start digging for more books on the subject. The ending of the book implies that Katie and her friends are not the only ones with odd powers, even if they are they only kids with their specific brand of abilities. While parts of this book are dated, given the number of times the reprint has been checked out and read, I can only surmise that it’s not too dated for today’s young readers.
Who else out there loved books about psychic powers? What was your favorite?
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on January 1, 2016, in Flashback Fridays and tagged Authors, Books, Children's Literature, kidlit, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, Psychic Powers, Reading, reviews, Science Fiction, SF. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.