Spinelli’s third novel in verse (after Summerhouse Time
and The Dancing Pancake
) explores identity, friends, and family with perception and humor. The fast-moving story is told in the fresh voice of Suzy Quinn, who is jealous of the attention heaped on her four-year-old brother, Parker, after he calls 911 to summon help for an elderly neighbor. Spinelli gives Suzy credible dimension as she reacts to Parker’s newfound celebrity (“I really don’t know/ how much more/ of this little hero stuff/ I can take”) and then to the news that her brother has gone missing, derailing her 12th birthday plans (“What kind of sister am I?/ Mad that Parker is missing/ instead of worried”). Suzy’s sense of self is further shaken when she fails to land a role in a play, which leads her to mimic—with amusing vigilance—the lifestyle of Emily Dickinson and shun family and friends. Spinelli tempers Suzy’s melancholy with her inadvertent wittiness (“Who could have thought/ being a recluse/ could be so/ exhausting!”) to create a thoughtful, reflective story. Art not seen by PW.
Ages 8–12. Illustrator’s agency: MB Artists. (May)