Savvy (novel)

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First edition cover
Author Ingrid Law
Illustrator Elizabeth Parker
Cover artist Hennie Haworth
Country United States of America
Language English
Series Savvy
Subject Kid's fiction coming-of-age tale
Genre Fiction, Children's literature
Publisher Penguin Group
Publication date
May 1, 2008
Media type Hardback, paperback audio
Pages 342
ISBN 978-0-14-132419-7
OCLC 222152797
LC Class PZ7.L41836 Sav 2008
Followed by Scumble

Savvy is a 2008 children's fantasy novel by Ingrid Law aimed at children aged nine to twelve years. The American Library Association named Savvy a 2009 Newbery Honor Book.[1]


'*Mississippi "Mibs" Beaumont The thirteen-year-old main protagonist. Throughout the book, she reminisces about her family and speculates about her own future, as she feels she is on the cusp of growing up. Her savvy is to be able to read the mind of people when they have ink on their body, such as tattoos (though when temporary tattoos eventually fade, like Bobbi's, it is harder for Mibs to "speak" to them).

*Fish Beaumont The fourteen-year-old brother of Mibs. He is often hot-tempered, which affects how he handles wind and rain, which are his savvy. He gains control of, or "scumbles", his savvy halfway through the book.

* Rocket Beaumont The oldest child of the household at age seventeen. His savvy is to control electricity. He loses confidence at the end of the book after nearly destroying a hospital with his savvy, and moves to his aunt and uncle's house where he will cause less damage a year after the initial events take place.

* Samson Beaumont Seven years old and Mibs' youngest brother. He likes hiding in dark, quiet places and does not talk much. His touch is noted as having a strengthening effect on people, although it is not clear whether this is his savvy manifesting early or a part of his personality. When he appears, however, everyone around him is stronger. In the sequel, his savvy is to disappear and reappear at will.

*Gypsy Beaumont The youngest member of the family at three years old and Mibs' younger (and only) sister.

*Jenny "Momma" Beaumont (maiden name O'Connell) The mother of the family. Her savvy is to be perfect in everything she does, including making perfect mistakes, which was shown when she explained how Mibs' father and her met.

*Abram "Poppa" Beaumont The father of the family, who was hospitalized after being in a 10-car pile-up car crash. He has no savvy because he married into the family but at the end of the book Mibs says his savvy is "not giving up on anything or anyone". He has a tattoo of a mermaid from when he was in the army. Supposedly the males in his family all lose their hair before the age of 30.

*Grandpa Bomba O'Connell Jenny's father. His savvy is the ability to move land, creating earthquakes, creating new lands, separating land, etc. (Reason for living in Kansaska-Nebransas, a piece of land created by him reserved for the Beaumonts)

*Grandma Dollop O'Connell (maiden name Payne) Jenny's mother. Her savvy is to capture radio waves. She dies before the beginning of the book, but appears in flashbacks.

*Lester Swan Driver of the Bible bus. He is very soft-hearted and allows the children to travel on his bus. He has tattoos saying 'Rhonda' and 'Carlene', who are his mother and his former girlfriend who appear in his thoughts constantly sniping at him.

*Lill Kiteley A waitress with a talent for being late. She takes care of the children after she is fired, and quickly falls in love with Lester.

*Roberta "Bobbi" Meeks Mrs. Rosemary's 16-year-old daughter. She acts very tough, but is secretly quite sentimental. She has an eyebrow piercing and a small press on temporary tattoo on her back that portrays an angel with vague demonic features. She has a crush on Rocket.

* Will Meeks, Jr. Mrs. Rosemary's 14-year-old grandson, who was raised as her son. He likes Mibs romantically and as a friend, and accepts her in spite of her savvy. Will wants to be like his father, Bill Meeks.

*Dinah Kale Momma's sister whose savvy is to make anyone do whatever she wants (smiling at the person and telling them what to do). She does not appear in the book, but she features heavily in the Beaumont's flashbacks/stories. She is the mother of Ledger Kale in the sequel.

*Rosemary Meeks The preacher's wife. She takes over the Beaumont household after Momma and Rocket leave. She is a strict mother, yet she cares for each of her children in her own way. She is said to make meatloaf that has big chunks of onions and dry ketchup.

*Bill Meeks, Sr. Mrs. Rosemary's oldest son, who is a state trooper and Will Junior's father. He had Will Junior when he was sixteen.

*Ozzie "The Great and Powerful" The former boss of Lill and the owner of the chicken Emerald Truck Stop and Diner.

*Carlene Lester's former girlfriend and boss of the Heartland Bible Supply Company. Near the end of the book she is presumably arrested.

Plot or Storyline[edit]

The Beaumont family has an inherited trait to get a magic power, called a ‘savvy’ that activates on their 13th birthday. Mibs is 12, going on 13, and is excited to get her own savvy, hopefully a really awesome, amazing one like her brothers, who can control electricity and the weather. But then, two days before her birthday, her family receives news that her father was in a terrible accident and in a coma in a hospital in Salina, Kansas. Her mother, whose savvy is perfection, and her brother Rocket drive to Salina together, leaving Mibs, Fish, and their two younger siblings Samson and Gypsy home with their grandfather Bomba, who can move land. (He created the strip of land they call Nebransas/Kansaska.) Mibs’ excitement is dampened and she begins to wish that God would send her a savvy that would help her help her father.

She comes home from school the next day to find the preacher’s wife, Mrs. Rosemary, in the house, tidying things up and keeping things spic-n’-span. She sends Mibs up to hang out with Will Junior and Bobbi, who are upstairs. At this point, Mibs is not friends with Bobbi, and in fact the farthest thing from it. When they come downstairs for dinner, Mrs. Rosemary informs Mibs that she is planning a birthday party for her tomorrow at the chapel, much to Mibs’ dismay. “Thirteenth birthdays in the Beaumont family were strictly non-public affairs.” (pg. 30) Because they could often end up being disastrous—Rockets’ birthday caused statewide blackouts, and Fish’s caused a sudden hurricane of mass destruction, strengthened by the living close to the ocean at the time.

The next morning, Mibs notices how as soon as the like-a-rock-sleeping Gypsy wakes up the same time Mibs does, unusually, and comes downstairs to find Samson’s previously-supposed dead pet turtle is alive and swimming around in his tank. It isn’t until they all have gotten to the church that she wonders if her savvy might be to wake things up, and she gets an idea. She enters the church and notices the preacher shouting at a bible deliveryman angrily about what appears to be pink bibles, and keeps going, with Will accompanying her, to find Bobbi making sandwiches for the party. While she sits quietly off to the side, she’s aware of a voice that belongs to no one, muffled and just barely indecipherable, just behind her eyes. Straining to listen, she’s thrown off balance and falls into Will, knocking a tray of sandwiches to the ground. As she’s standing back up, she notices a small tattoo on Bobbi’s lower back, a little angel with devil horns and tail, which suddenly moves and says, “‘She’s really very lonely, you know…’”(pg. 53) Mibs promptly passes out.

When Mibs wakes up, she’s in the preacher’s office, and can hear three arguments happening at once. One is between Mrs. Rosemary and Fish, who are chasing each other around the desk, shouting about whether or not to call an ambulance for the fainted Mibs, the second is between the preacher and the poor delivery man, the preacher absolutely furious that the man would bring him pink bibles, heaven forbid. The third has no clear point of origin, and is between two nasty-sounding ladies Carlene and Rhonda. Nobody notices her awakening but Will, who is peeking through the door. Mibs slips out with Will, and has a wonderful idea to go to Salina to wake up her father with her newfound savvy of waking people up. She is adamant about getting to Salina, somehow, as she walks out of the church with Will. She notices the delivery man’s pink bus, and sees that the company is based in Salina. She quickly boards the bus, and Will follows. Bobbi is leaning against the bus and enters, asking what they’re doing. Fish, at that moment, comes storming out of the church, looking for Mibs, and sees her on the bus steps. Mibs, Will, and Bobbi all get on the bus, and are arguing about how Will is totally not going to Salina, or at least not without her. “‘If you two disappear, guess who’ll be held responsible? Guess who’ll get in trouble? Me, that’s who. And if I’m going to get in trouble, it had better be for something really good. I’m going with you.’” (pg. 69) Bobbi informed them. Fish then stormed onto the bus and demanded to know what was going on. Mibs stubbornly tells him she’s going to Salina, and Bobbi let’s him know they’re all going, and he can come or get off. At that moment, though, the Preacher, the delivery man, and Mrs. Rosemary all come out of the church, looking for them. Knowing they can’t get caught on the bus, they scramble to the back and hide behind a stack or two of boxes of the pink bibles, and find as well that Samson has hidden himself under a cot at the back.

The deliveryman boards glumly, and starts off, unaware of his stowaways. With him come the shouting and bickering voices of Carlene and Rhonda, much to Mibs’ displeasure, accompanied by the voice of Bobbi’s tattoo. As they reach the road, though, the bus turns the opposite direction of Salina. The kids can’t say anything, so they stay quiet and still, hiding at the back of the bus. They drive for a long time until Bobbi gets bored and kicks Fish, who’s sitting at the end of the cot. Fish’s powers vex, and there’s a mini windstorm of chaos at the back of the bus, prompting the bus driver to hit the brakes. Samson calms Fish’s anger, just as the bus driver shows up at the back of the bus, mad as he can possibly be.

“‘What are you k-kids doing b-back there?’” He says with all the might he can while Mibs hears--and now sees--his tattoos of the names Carlene and Rhonda shouting about how much of a pansy Lester is. After some hesitance, Mibs explains that she needs needs needs to get to Salina. Easily convinced, Lester Swan let’s the kids stay on the bus until he arrives in Salina tomorrow afternoon. They groan, as that is a very long time away, and accept.

On the way, they stop and pick up a woman named Lill Kiteley who’s car has broken down, who is very kind and all the kids take to her instantly. She succeeds in lifting the mood on the bus after listening patiently to the kids’ stories, and takes a liking to Lester. She offers to supply dinner for them that night at the diner she works at. They get to the diner, and Mibs realizes that maybe her power isn’t to wake things up but to hear people’s thoughts through ink on their skin. As they walk into the diner, Mibs notices a unconscious homeless man and her savvy is confirmed when she fails to wake him up but hears snippets of his pained thoughts through an old tattoo. When they enter, Mibs is aggressively assaulted by the tattoos of the many, many bikers in the diner, and she is immediately overwhelmed. Lill let’s her and Fish into the backroom where she lies down on the couch. She explains to Fish what her savvy is, and notice that Bobbi heard their whole conversation, and now knows her secret “‘So you read minds, do you?’” (pg. 165). She dashes out, and Fish and Mibs notice the TV, which is broadcasting a news update on missing children, and show the faces of them, Samson, Bobbi, and Will. Fish switches off the TV, just as Lill’s boss, Ozzie, comes bursting through the back door, and pushes them out of the back room and fires Lill. Lester finds a little backbone and stands up to Ozzie, who’s talking smack to Lill, and a small scuffle ensues. Ozzie is knocked over, a pie is stolen, and dinner is grabbed at the last minute as they all tear out of the diner and head for the bus. Mibs, bless her heart, leaves a sandwich for the homeless man.

As they’re boarding the bus, Bobbi is assaulting Mibs with her thoughts, demanding she tell her what she’s thinking. (“‘Tell me what I’m thinking. Do you know what I’m thinking?’” pg. 181) Enraged, Fish scares the crap out of Will and Bobbi and subsequently proves they have magic powers by blasting them with a powerful wind storm. Fish, in that moment, learns how to control his savvy, and they all board the bus and head for a hotel nearby. They stay a night, and fool Lill into thinking they called their parents--Bobbi pretending to be her mother on the other end of the phone--and go swimming in the pool. The next morning, they set out to drop off some money at Lester’s boss’ house, which turns out to be the evil Carlene.

Upon arriving at Carlene’s trailer, she squawks that the money Lester gathered isn’t enough while all the kids get off and go to use Carlene’s bathroom. Carlene goes wack on Lester, recognizing the kids’ faces from TV, and they all storm out hurriedly, and go about a mile before realizing they left Samson. They get back and Carlene refuses to tell them where he is, having hid him. They draw a face on Carlene’s skin with a pen, and her thought gives away Samson’s location, as well as Samson, who draws faces all over himself. The police arrive and soon everything’s a mess. For an hour, caseworkers and social service people look all the kids over, before Bill, Will’s brother, arrives and hugs Will especially tight. “‘Were you looking for trouble like your old man used to get into? Don’t try to be like me, Will, you’re too smart for that.’” (pg. 291) Bill whispered to Will, and Mibs promptly puts two and two together and realizes Will is Bill’s son.

Bill appeals to the cops around and allows Lester to drive all of them to Salina to see the family, seeing as they never did anything wrong, and soon they’re all at the hospital, reuniting with their families. Mibs’ mom leads her up to see their father, who’s still in a coma, and notices how much damage that’s been caused by Rocket’s uncontrolled savvy outbursts. (E.g. broken glass, broken instruments) Mibs attempts to talk to her father through his tattoo on his arm, and yells encouraging words. Her father flatlines for a second, then wakes up.

Jumping a year ahead, Rocket is moving out to live with their cousins in Wyoming to learn to control his savvy, and her father is back at home, recovered except for minor mental issues in remembering things.

Critical reception[edit]

Kirkus Reviews awarded Savvy a starred review, praising Law's "fertile imagination" and "dab hand for likable, colorful characters".[2] Susan Faust of the San Francisco Chronicle called the storytelling "magical" but noted that some of the adventures were improbable.[3] The website Kidsreads called it "fun, hilarious, relatable and enduring".[4]

In addition to the 2009 Newbery Honor,[1] Savvy was named the second runner up in the 2011 Indian Paintbrush Book Award.[5]


The sequel to Savvy, Scumble, was released in August 2010. The plot follows a cousin of Mibs', Ledger Kale, whose savvy is to break anything, and also takes place nine years afterward.

On Ledge's 13th birthday, the only thing that happened was some small objects breaking apart. Knowing this, his parents decide it's safe for the family to travel to cousin Fish Beaumont's wedding on their Uncle Autry's ranch in Wyoming. However, Ledge is cornered by local girl Sarah Jane "SJ" Cabot, who wants to be a reporter, and whose father is essentially in control of the town. After the wedding, SJ steals the jar in which Grandma Dollop kept her and Grandpa Bomba's wedding song, Ledge's mom (Dinah, who can make anyone do what she wants by throwing in a smile) corners cousin Rocket, and Will Meeks confides to Ledge that he plans to propose to Mibs. With Ledge's guilt over the theft of the jar, his savvy is turned loose and he destroys the barn in which the reception is being held.

His parents decide to leave Ledge and his sister Fedora (Fe) in Wyoming for the summer, along with cousins Samson and Gypsy Beaumont and Marisol and Mesquite O'Connell (Autry's daughters, who levitate objects), so Ledge can learn to scumble his savvy before he returns home to Indiana. But Sarah Jane keeps finding him and disturbing him, as she wants to know more about The Flying Cattleheart, Uncle Autry's bug ranch (Autry can control bugs). As her father keeps finding Ledge and his daughter talking, he grows angrier and eventually decides to foreclose and destroy the ranch. Throughout, Ledge and SJ begin to fall in love, and Ledge starts going to an auto repair woman named Winona, who uses spare parts for sculptures, which Ledge begins to do using his savvy. Winona meets Rocket, and the two evidently begin a relationship, which is a release for Rocket, who withdrew into himself after accidentally electrocuting but not killing Bobbi Meeks, who was in the first book.

Eventually, Uncle Autry reveals the truth about the Cabots: SJ's mother was the last in a savvy family and was best friends with Autry; she had the ability to grow trees abnormally quickly and turn other objects into trees. She and Noble Cabot got married where Fish and his bride Mellie did, out at the ranch. But a few years after SJ was born, Summer Cabot became deathly ill, and in an act that grieved and enraged her husband, transformed herself into a tree before she could die. Noble hated Autry after that and shielded SJ from the world of savvies. However, Sarah Jane has now come into her own savvy, to make anyone believe something she has written.

Noble has decided to demolish Autry's Bug House, and Ledge frees SJ from her room before bringing her back to the ranch to help stop her father. Grandpa Bomba, who has been living off Samson's strength (he turns invisible and shares strength with others), shifts the land one last time to aid them before collapsing, which Samson does too. The twins also help by levitating crewmen. Gypsy is still in the Bug House, and it's up to Ledge to stop Noble's cranes. He demolishes the cranes and forms metal trees to protect the Bug House. Noble leaves and takes Sarah Jane with him, just as Ledge's parents arrive.

A few months later, Grandpa Bomba dies, and the wedding song is released for good during his funeral at the ranch. Mibs and Will are engaged, Rocket and Winona are in a steady relationship, and Bobbi Meeks comes to visit, with her young daughter. Ledge and Samson talk a little and nosy Great-Aunt Jules pries with Jenny (Momma in the first book) about what happened on Gypsy's 13th birthday. SJ shows up and gives Ledge a little paper saying "Don't believe everything you read."[6]


The sequel to "Savvy" and "Scumble", Switch was released September 2015. The plot follows Mibs' sister Gypsy who (originally) has the savvy to see the past and future, which inexplicably becomes the ability to stop time, and takes place a few months after Ledge's adventure.

Gypsy's savvy was a surprise: not only did her vision turn blurry, but whenever her new glasses moved off her eyes, she could see visions of someone's past or future. But her life turns upside down when Momma and Poppa decide that Poppa's vicious, non-magical mother, Grandma Pat, has to live with them, as she has Alzheimer's and her memory is fading. Suddenly, everyone's savvies undergo a switch. Momma can't do anything right anymore, Samson can control fire rather than turn invisible, 7-year-old Tucker gets his savvy early and grows to colossal proportions, and Gypsy herself starts freezing the present rather than looking forward or back.

After an incident where Tucker almost knocks the house down and Gypsy can't unfreeze time for almost 2 days, the family, minus Poppa, goes out to Colorado to start moving Grandma Pat. However, she is back-and-forth between being mean and thinking she's a teenager again, trying to go to a winter dance at her high school. She escapes during a freak blizzard,and the kids find that Momma, with her new talent for blunders, has driven off the road. Remembering one of Gypsy's first visions and knowing that their mother will be fine, the kids enlist neighbor girl Nola Kim, who occasionally takes care of Grandma, to help find her. Gypsy also had a vision before the switch of Grandma Pat (who she originally thought was herself, since she'd been looking into a mirror when the vision came) falling from the clock tower of the abandoned high school at midnight, and is terrified for her.

Along the way, they meet people like Antwon Delacroix (Del), who is immune to Gypsy's time stops since they share a birthday (as is Grandma Pat), and a couple about to become parents, whom Samson startles when he uses his fire powers to get them extra quick to the hospital. There they also find Grandma Pat and Nola fixes Samson's dislocated shoulder. They end up at a Hawaiian restaurant called Volcano Laverne's, where Nola gets to live her dream of singing and getting a standing ovation when she also saves a choking man. Del tells Gypsy how amazing she truly is and Samson and Nola finally kiss. But during a blackout, Tucker and Grandma Pat vanish.

As midnight approaches, the group, along with some Marines on leave, dash to the high school, where Tucker brought Grandma by growing again into a giant, and help some of Del's tormentors. Grandma Pat does fall off the clock tower, but Gypsy, Del, and Samson manage to catch her. When Gypsy loses her grip, Tucker grows yet again and catches Grandma.

When they meet up with the bullies in the gym, Grandma starts dancing again, and everyone joins in. A couple days later, Poppa arrives and the family takes Grandma home, after Samson, Gypsy, Tucker, and Nola face the music for what they did. Samson accidentally reveals the family secret by creating fiery hearts for Nola when her parents were watching secretly. Although it's not clear whether the savvies will ever switch back, everyone is content and Gypsy has a newfound love for Grandma Pat and everything they share.[7]


  1. ^ a b "2009 Newbery Medal and Honor Books". Association for Library Service to Children. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  2. ^ "Savvy by Ingrid Law". Kirkus Reviews. 1 April 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Faust, Susan (28 December 2008). "'Religious Fiction' for kids". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Shanley-Dillman, Chris. "Savvy by Ingrid Law". Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "2011 Indian Paintbrush Awards" (PDF). Indian Paintbrush Awards. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Scumble copyright 2010 by Ingrid Law
  7. ^ Switch copyright 2015 by Ingrid Law