Poet Freeman makes her middle grade debut with this engaging survival story in verse based on Island of the Blue Dolphins.
When 12-year-old Maddie’s plans for a secret sleepover fall through, she decides to stay at her grandparents’ empty summer apartment solo, having already lied to her divorced parents about her whereabouts. An unexpected middle-of-the-night evacuation leaves Maddie completely alone in her small Colorado town, without power, information, or any way to communicate with loved ones. With only the neighbor’s rottweiler as a companion, Maddie spends the next three years surviving on her own—gathering food from abandoned stores, navigating ever-changing and sometimes dangerous weather, and hiding from looters and wild dogs. Most of all, she must overcome the unending loneliness and uncertainty that each day brings. The lengths to which resourceful Maddie must go in order to survive feel realistic, and Freeman’s well-paced verse magnifies significant and harrowing moments. The explanation of the “imminent danger” that left Maddie alone is vague and hasty, however—after readers follow a worthy protagonist through three years of solitude and despair, the abrupt resolution disappoints. Ages 10–up. Agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary. (Jan.)