The Tiny Mansion by Keir Graff

The Tiny Mansion by Keir Graff. Putnam, 2020. 9781984813855

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Dagmar is stuck in a tiny house in the middle of the forest with her dad, step-mom, and five year old step brother. A deal fell through, and her family is completely broke. She misses her friends in Oakland, as well as running water and electricity. When she encounters a fence in the forest with the sign: “No Trespassing, Keep Out, Danger, This Means You!!!” she takes it as a challenge and a way to stave off boredom. She meets a kid named Blake, who lives with his billionaire father and mother in a mansion in the woods. He lacks social skills, but both he and Dagmar can use a friend, so they hang out. She learns of the complete disfunction of Blake’s family, which she finds mind-boggling. When wild fires threaten both families’ homes, the question is whether they can put aside their feuding to help one another survive.

Dagmar is a sophisticated, self-aware and funny character, and she narrates the story with deadpan humor. Her artsy hippie dad is a great character, and Blake’s family are pretty extreme entitled rich people. It was fun to see her navigate the two realities. She also is pretty funny in her annoyance with her five year old half brother. The story moves quickly, and is hard to put down. The ideas of money and work and personal satisfaction come to play as Dagmar reflects on the adults in the two families.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Middle grade readers who like realistic fiction. As it touches on the real life impact of wild fires, kids who like stories that reflect current events will enjoy this.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: October 6, 2020

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