cover image It Always Happens to Leona

It Always Happens to Leona

Juanita Havill, Crown. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-57227-6

In a brisk and successful change of pace from her two Jamaica picture books, Havill has produced a bittersweet family story just right for readers growing out of chapter books and into middle-grade novels. Leona is a middle child who feels lonesome and left out in her busy family. All the attention seems to be focused on the eldest, Victoria (who gets to do everything first), and on troublesome toddler Albert (who is always cuddled and forgiven). Leona longs to excel in something and plans to run away to Tulsa and her free-spirited Uncle Rosco. It takes a family reunion to remind Leona (and her parents) that every middle child needs to find a place within the family. This is warm and satisfying fare, complemented by McCully's gentle illustrations. Ages 7-9. (June)