cover image Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd)

Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd)

Julie Bowe. Penguin/Dawson, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3693-1

Just after her parents reveal that they are getting divorced, nine-year-old Wren Jo Byrd is sent to spend the summer with her grandparents, avoiding messages from her best friend, Amber, and the painful changes back home. Returning for the new school year, Wren finds that Amber has an outspoken and confident new best friend, Marianna. With her friendship in shambles, Wren continues to keep her parents’ divorce to herself, but she soon discovers that secrets have a way of turning into lies. Bowe (the Friends for Keeps series) effectively conveys Wren’s fears and frustrations: “I’m don’t know why I’m the one who has to go away when none of this was my idea,” she confides to her cat, Shakespeare. Wren’s decision to hide her difficulties at home, even as it affects her life on many fronts, powerfully illustrates how deeply upsetting family changes can be. Bowe’s genuine portraits of the key relationships in Wren’s life—with her friends, parents, and even the often-difficult Marianna—make for a warm and rewarding story about dealing with change. Ages 7–9. Agent: Steven Chudney, Chudney Agency. (Mar.)