cover image My Especially Weird Week with Tess

My Especially Weird Week with Tess

Anna Woltz, trans. from the Dutch by David Colmer, illus. by David Dean. Rock the Boat, $9.99 paper (176p) ISBN 978-0-86154-298-7

On the first day of his family vacation on Texel Island, 11-year-old Sam meets 12-year-old local Tess, who becomes his intrepid and immediate confidante. Tess is privately grappling with her own stressors; her single mother has shared very little about Tess’s father over the years, so Tess takes matters into her own hands by not only finding out who her dad is, but successfully luring him and his girlfriend to the island by pretending they won a free week at Tess’s mom’s vacation cottage. Keeping her true identity secret, Tess poses as an unrelated, curious tween and slowly connects with her dad. Sam, meanwhile, wrestles with an increasingly prevalent fear of a loved one’s death and attempts to prepare himself for the eventuality by spending less time with family. Tess’s conflicted feelings about her father and Sam’s preoccupation with death’s realities are deftly handled, and Sam’s relationships with his family, particularly his brother, are realistically flawed and filled with love. Brisk pacing and a fully realized setting by Woltz (Talking to Alaska) paired with animated illustrations by Dean round out this fervent story of friendship and family. Characters read as white. Ages 10–14. (May)