cover image Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?

Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?

Leslie Connor, illus. by Ramona Kaulitzki. HarperCollins/Tegen, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-299936-8

In alternating perspectives, Connor (The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle) centers two neighbors, both sixth graders cued as neurodivergent, in a coastal Maine town. Having a tendency to blurt and “trouble keeping still,” self-described rock hound Aurora Petrequin “tells it like it is.” She’s fast friends with Frenchie Livernois, who communicates via physical responses his need for routine and interest in the natural world—particularly birds. But when Frenchie disappears one morning, Aurora worries that her actions have resulted in a “Worst Possible” event, similar to the time she briefly lost her little brother on a hike. As the close-knit town organizes a tense search-and-rescue, occasional interstitials position community members’ whereabouts and sightings of a piebald deer. Aurora’s buoyant first-person telling dominates the narrative, interspersed with occasional third-person chapters that detail Frenchie’s perspective in sensorially evocative language. Though this positioning at times minimizes Frenchie’s mode of expression, Connor’s well-plotted mystery and affectionate portrayal of the children’s—and their white families’—close friendship thoughtfully considers themes of claiming space and becoming oneself. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–up. Agent: Miriam Altshuler, DeFiore and Co. (Feb.)