cover image The Key to Extraordinary

The Key to Extraordinary

Natalie Lloyd. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-545-55274-5

In a folksy tale laced with supernatural mystery, Lloyd (A Snicker of Magic) poetically conveys the depth of 12-year-old Emma's emotions as she embarks on a quest to uncover a legendary secret. Except for the times when Emma is overcome by "the Big Empty," a feeling she gets when she misses her recently deceased mother, she is an ordinary girl. Still, there are things in her Blackbird Hollow home that are extraordinary, like flowers with magical powers, the haunted graveyard just beyond her house, the tantalizing "Boneyard Brew" served in her grandmother's cafe, and The Book of Days, which records the "destiny dreams" of her ancestors (interspersed through the story). When her grandmother, plagued by money worries, considers selling the family business, Emma is determined to save the cafe by finding treasure, reputedly buried in the graveyard. The book's evocative setting and cast of eccentric minor characters will draw readers into Emma's world%E2%80%94one warmed by friendship, love, and hope%E2%80%94to share in her discovery that the most valuable treasures lie within. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary & Media. (Feb.)