Genre: Realistic Fiction
Rating: (1-5, 5 is a starred review) 3
What did you like about the book? Effie Starr Zook is an engaging protagonist who is impossible not to like. An investigator like Harriet, a pusher of limits like Ramona, she has the ineffable optimism of Pollyanna. The only child of adventurer parents, she is sent to spend the summer with her aunt and uncle on the family farm while her parents pilot a solar-powered airplane around the world. Not knowing much about children, Aunt Clare and Uncle Ted leave Effie to her own devices.
Free to roam around, Effie hops on her bike and heads in to town. She discovers a charming bookstore and befriends its owner, a friendly but secretive man. She meets the mayor’s widow, a nonstop talker. And she makes a friend in Moriah but is warned to keep her distance because of the “bad blood” between the two families.
Effie soon realizes there is something big the adults are not talking about and probes with her never-ending questions to get to the bottom of the mystery of her family’s past.
Anything you didn’t like about it? As an adult reading a children’s book, I liked this book. But, I am reviewing this book for children as readers and I struggle to identify the audience.
The writing style and bare bones of the plot line have an old-fashioned feel that would appeal to fans of Beverly Cleary and the Penderwicks. The nuances of the story (themes of sexism, racism, class, authoritarianism), however subtle, make this a story for a more sophisticated audience.
To whom would you recommend this book? Elementary schools and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Juvenile fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Nancy Riemer Kellner, Peaslee Elementary School Library, Northborough, MA
Date of review: 12/29/2016