What's Bugging Bailey Blecker?
Gail Donovan, Dutton, $16.99 (194p) ISBN 978-0-525-42286-0
Donovan (In Memory of Gorfman T. Frog) creates a realistic, engaging middle-grade heroine in fifth-grader Bailey Blecker, who lives on a small island off the coast of Maine with her single mother, who "had wanted a baby so badly... but she wasn't married or anything close to married. So a doctor helped her have a baby." Bailey's problems are of the usual sort—she and her best friend are drifting apart; her pet bird gets lost; her beloved aunt is fighting cancer—but underlying them all is an extremely annoying set of "uninvited guests": lice, which threaten her plan to grow her hair out and donate it to cancer patients. Bailey is emotionally authentic, with an individualistic voice and a strong streak of stubbornness, of which she is particularly proud. "The thing about being stubborn was, you knew where you stood.... Not being stubborn.... You'd have to figure out where you were going as you went along." The easy-to-follow story line, slightly out-of-the-ordinary setting, and credible secondary characters add up to a well-constructed novel especially appropriate for the younger end of the targeted audience. Ages 8–11. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/13/2010