cover image My Father’s Words

My Father’s Words

Patricia MacLachlan. HarperCollins/Tegen, $15.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-06-268769-2

Key relationships in her own life inspired this characteristically taut and resonant novel by Newbery Medalist MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall). Life as Fiona has known and loved it comes to a screeching halt over runny eggs one morning when Fiona’s psychologist father—her guiding light, singer of “Dona Nobis Pacem” and player of driveway basketball—dies in a car accident after swerving to avoid hitting a child. Since her overwhelmed mother has been pursuing a degree, it falls to Fiona to keep her suddenly withdrawn younger brother, Finn (and herself), afloat over the summer. She receives rock-solid help from Luke, a remarkably intuitive neighbor; Emma, the rescue dog to whom Finn reads and sings at the local shelter; and one of her father’s former patients, who pays the doctor’s kindness forward by calling Fiona for two minutes each week and passing on her dad’s indelible sayings (“Let the whole thing float down the river on a little boat”). MacLachlan masterfully mingles core themes in this slim volume: the power of words and song, memories and family, the mutually redemptive human-canine bond, and “the eternal fitness of things.” Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. (Oct.) [/em]