cover image Rebel McKenzie

Rebel McKenzie

Candice Ransom. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4231-4539-4

Ransom (Ida Honeysuckle Discovers the World) again creates a heroine with an unusual passion: 12-year-old Rebel McKenzie wants to be a paleontologist, and her goal this summer is to attend the Ice Age Kids’ Dig and Safari. Instead, she is stuck babysitting her seven-year-old nephew, Rudy, in a mobile home while her 26-year-old sister, Lynette, attends beauty school. An outgoing smart aleck with a talent for “burp-talking,” Rebel decides—along with new friend Lacey Jane—to enter a local beauty pageant to win the money she needs for the Dig. Peopled by offbeat characters—including an annoyingly perfect pageant winner named Bambi; elderly Odenia Matthews, a former hand model who trains the girls for the pageant; and an enormous cat named Doublewide—the book is especially strong in the development of Rebel’s relationship with Rudy, who talks to God at lunchtime and is obsessed with fashion—for corpses. Surprises in both plot and character development create a quick pace; extra material like Rudy’s cartoons and pages from Rebel’s “field notebook” provide welcome and often amusing insight. Ages 9–12. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (June)