cover image The Romeo and Juliet Code

The Romeo and Juliet Code

Phoebe Stone, Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-545-21511-4

Stone's (Deep Down Popular) intricate and lyrical novel, set during WWII, resembles The Secret Garden in all the best ways. Bright and bold Felicity Bathburn Budwig's parents leave her with her father's family in Maine, without an explanation, far from her beloved and endangered home in England. In addition to culture shock, 11-year-old Felicity is frustrated with her quirky and closed-mouthed relatives, including secretive Uncle Gideon and Shakespeare-obsessed Aunt Miami. When Uncle Gideon begins receiving letters from Portugal in her father's handwriting, Felicity and Captain Derek, a 12-year-old recovering from polio, set out to find answers and solve the many mysteries of the "large, dark house full of rifts and lies." Felicity is a deeply empathetic heroine, and as she informs readers of the ways of British children ("British children are usually very brave. I saw many, many of them getting on trains in London... going alone to the countryside to get away from the bombs"), she reveals much about the hardships facing young Londoners during the war. Stone's accomplished tale provides a romantic yet realistic perspective on family, perseverance, and adaptation. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)