Jean Van Leeuwen, Author, R. W. Alley, Illustrator . Penguin Putnam/Fogelman $16.99 (165p) ISBN 978-0-8037-2738-0

In a tragically timely story, Van Leeuwen (Bound for Oregon) profiles the experience of a grade-schooler whose mother and five-year-old brother board a plane to Chicago and never return. Morgan asks herself why her mother would run away and never even call or write. "It is my fault," Morgan thinks. "It was me who drove her away." No one talks about Morgan's loss, neither at school nor at home, where her father hides behind his newspaper and her seemingly perfect older sister stays busy all the time. Readers will realize the psychological significance of Lucy, the "magic" dog who not only visits Morgan in her dreams but, just like Morgan's mother, sings lullabies and even plays cards; readers will also recognize the need that Morgan's fantasies about Lucy fill. When Morgan finally reveals that her mother and brother died aboard the plane, readers will not be surprised—more likely they will be cheering on Morgan in her emotional growth. And as the heroine copes with the usual onslaught of preadolescent self-inflicted embarrassments (giving herself a disastrous haircut; applying so much makeup that her teacher thinks she has a black eye), fast pacing and insightful dialogue turn stock situations into a tender and honest portrait of grief. Ages 9-12. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/27/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Children's
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