cover image JUST ASK IRIS


Lucy Frank, . . Atheneum/Jackson, $17 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84406-5

There are many adjectives that could be used to describe Frank's (I Am an Artichoke) 12-year-old narrator, Iris Pinkowitz. Spunky, enterprising and braless (until she can earn enough money to buy the much-needed article of clothing) are just a few words that fit the bill. As the story opens, Iris has just moved from the Bronx to Manhattan with her Latina mother and older brother, Freddy; her father has stayed behind. She'll be starting a new junior high come fall; and she really needs to buy that bra soon. While she's supposed to be spending her summer learning to type in preparation for computer school, she instead climbs the fire escape outside her building in search of a particular cat. During her quest to find "Fluffy," Iris meets various neighbors and starts a business doing odd jobs for them. There's the Avon saleslady, Daisy, who needs Iris to baby-sit her grandchildren; Mr. Gordon, who wants his dog walked; the brutish Tattoo Man, whom Iris tries to avoid; Willy, a boy in a wheelchair with a chip on his shoulder; and the Cat Lady, an eccentric old woman on the top floor, who might be Fluffy's owner. Through hilarious and poignant moments, Iris adroitly charts her growing pains and her budding friendships. Packed with action, lively dialogue and engaging personalities, this slice of urban life is thoroughly entertaining. Ages 10-14. (Nov.)