cover image The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster

The Collected Works of Gretchen Oyster

Cary Fagan. Tundra, $16.99 (184p) ISBN 978-0-7352-6621-6

Since his older brother, Jackson, ran away from home nine months earlier,13-year-old Hartley Staples’s life has only gotten worse. Jackson’s behavior was always erratic, but Hartley cannot fathom why he left. In addition to his deeply sad parents and hostile twin sister, he’s coping with a best friend who has suddenly withdrawn. Preoccupied with his search for answers, Hartley struggles to focus on his year-end school project, and he suffers from stomachaches. Then he finds an artistic postcard stating, “i hate all kinds of flags except pirate flags,” signed “G.O.” When another, similar card appears, he becomes wrapped up in the mystery of who is creating the cards and why they are appearing around town. Fagan (Mort Ziff Is Not Dead) tells a moving story about the happiness found in small moments and art’s power to connect people. A few chapters are told from G.O.’s point of view, and full-page illustrations show the whimsical, philosophical postcards. Hartley is a chatty narrator who frequently addresses the reader, and his longing and grief feel authentic, as does his gradual lift in spirits. Ages 10–14. [em](Sept.) [/em]