cover image Grounded


Kate Klise, Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-312-57039-2

Klise (the 43 Old Cemetery Road series) spins an insightful story about loss and family, set in the tiny town of Digginsville, Mo., told from the plainspoken perspective of 12-year-old Daralynn Oakland. Her brother, sister, and father die in a plane crash, leaving her with her brusque mother, who refuses help or sympathy, and her senile grandmother. Her mother keeps herself busy with a new job as a hairstylist at the local funeral home, while Daralynn is stuck at home, eating frozen dinners ("After the grief casseroles tapered off, Mother lost the will to cook"), examining her life B.C. (Before the Crash) and A.D. (After the Deaths), and recording letters to her siblings and father in her Pertinent Facts & Important Information book. When the mysterious Mr. Clem opens a crematorium nearby and steals the heart of Daralynn's vivacious Aunt Josie, it poses a threat to the funeral home's business, and the town. Balancing Daralynn's family tragedy with gentle humor and an evocative late-1960s setting, Klise's writing is refreshingly matter-of-fact and studded with simple, powerful images and memorable, entertaining characters. Ages 9–13. (Nov.)