cover image The Summer Experiment

The Summer Experiment

Cathie Pelletier. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4022-8578-3

Adult author Pelletier (The One-Way Bridge) delves into children’s books with the story of an 11-year-old seeking aliens—and revenge against her older brother’s teasing. Roberta McKinnon is proud to be a country girl from northern Maine, especially since her town is famous for alien abductions that supposedly took place back in the 1970s. With mysterious lights spotted in Maine skies once again, it seems as though the aliens could be back. Roberta plans to track down the UFOs as a science fair project, with help from best friend, Marilee. Blocking their road to success are perennial science fair winner Henry and Roberta’s older brother, Johnny, who keeps scaring her with fake alien sightings, prompting her to respond with some “lukewarm mean” tricks of her own. The details of Roberta’s rural life, including the four-wheelers she and her friends drive around and the independence that’s expected of Maine kids, are well drawn and authentic. Roberta’s self-confidence and determination are her calling card, and her quest to stand out entertains up through the wild twists of the final chapters. Ages 9–up. Agent: Jennifer De Chiara, Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. (Apr.)