cover image Looking for True

Looking for True

Tricia Springstubb. Holiday House/Ferguson, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8234-5099-2

Springstubb (The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe) crafts a heartfelt contemporary novel about unexpected friendship that kicks off with a Because of Winn-Dixie–tinged bond. When talkative, small-for-her age Gladys encounters quiet Jude, who’s tall for his, the 11-year-olds feel an instant connection with a seemingly mistreated mutt in their small-town neighborhood. Neither can take the hound home: Jude’s widowed mother fears dogs following a bite, and Gladys’s father is severely allergic. Desperate to save the dog that Gladys calls True Blue, the tweens hide her in an abandoned house after they discover she’s escaped from her owner’s yard. The stakes grow more complicated when Jude’s mother loses her job at a nursing home, resulting in tight finances for the family, and True Blue’s owner offers a $500 reward for the dog’s return. As each child navigates familial relationships—Gladys, who is adopted, around belonging and love, and Jude around a desire to make his mother proud—Springstubb gracefully conveys their need for both connection and independence, portraying sweet, protective relationships that each has with young children. Alternating third-person perspectives render unique characterizations. Jude cues as white; Gladys, depicted on the book’s cover with brown skin, is described as having “recalcitrant” hair that “sprang out like the rays of the sun.” Ages 8–12. Agent: Kristin Ostby, Greenhouse Literary. (Nov.)