Guys, this is a strange book. And I mean that as high, high praise.
The first line:
“Ruby Small was a normal little girl.”
But I can’t help but notice the three identical dolls in her arms who are dressed exactly like Ruby (in brown pinafores). It makes me think Ruby herself wants to be a normal little girl. Or hopes she is. But maybe she actually isn’t.
Because you see Ruby Small’s parents, well, they’re “not-normal-at-all-parents.” Mr. Small makes topiaries. Mrs. Small designs tiaras. Also, they tango. In the yard. It’s all quite horrifying to Ruby.
When discussing a vacation spot, Mr. Small suggests China. When Ruby answers, “No way,” it’s misinterpreted as Norway by the elders. So that’s where they go.
On the plane, between Ruby taking care of their passports and her parents playing ping-pong, pets are discussed. Her parents have wild ideas. Ruby wants a dog. (Something NORMAL.)
There are glaciers in Norway. And there are baby glaciers. And one of those baby glaciers decides to be Ruby Small’s pet. It follows her. Norwegian Sven gives it the name Cecil. Her parents take care of it. Her weird parents love this weird pet. But Ruby doesn’t.
“Ruby had no interest in her pet. On weekends, she and The Three Jennifers would go into their room and lock Cecil out. He would nudge the door, leaving a wet patch below the doorknob. After a bit, he would slide sadly back to his cooler.”
But Cecil, like most “normal” pets, is sweet and empathetic. Cecil loves his human, Ruby. And, eventually, he proves this to Ruby and she loves him too.
A strange book in all the best ways. But it’s also sad and sweet—an ode to pets and making peace with strangeness.
/ / / / / / /
Since the weather is warming (aka we’re having a heat wave in L.A.), here are ice cubes in honor of Cecil. They’re far from the norm in the sweetest, best way. I can’t wait to try these!
Fancy but simple rose petal ice cubes from Sweet Paul.
The summeriest ice around from The Culinary Tribune.
Violet ice cubes a la Design Sponge.
Just puree fresh fruit and freeze in an ice cube tray. Genius from Cheeky Kitchen.
Oh Joy‘s coconut milk and smoothie ice cubes. Wow!
I feel refreshed just looking at all that flavor-infused ice. Because different is refreshing—just ask Ruby and her pet Cecil the glacier.