cover image Across the Pond

Across the Pond

Joy McCullough. Atheneum, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5344-7121-4

Seventh grader Callie, who is white, can’t wait to trade her “small” San Diego existence for life in the sprawling Scottish castle her parents have inherited from Lady Whittington-Spence, a noblewoman from whom they once rented a cottage on the grounds. Callie’s life in Scotland is far from perfect, however: the castle is badly in need of repair, and the kids at her new school seem no different from the classmates who turned against her at home. She begs to be homeschooled, but her parents will only agree if she chooses a social activity. Callie opts to join a local bird-watching club and, despite the disappointing club’s sexist leader and obnoxious all-boy membership, develops a passion for birds. She also connects with two kindred spirits—club member Raj, who is of Indian descent, and Sid, the strawberry-blond granddaughter of her parents’ landscaper—and finds the diary of Pippa Spence, which details her evacuation to the Highlands during WWII and offers insight into the social nature of starlings. McCullough (We Are the Ashes, We Are the Fire), who lived in a Scottish castle as a young child, writes with compassion and knowledge as she traces Callie’s ups and downs in a new country alongside her burgeoning, awkwardly won knowledge of friendship and self. Ages 10–up. [em]Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret. (Mar.) [/em]