cover image The Universe of Fair

The Universe of Fair

Leslie Bulion, illus. by Frank W. Dormer. Peachtree, $15.95 (176p) ISBN 978-1-56145-634-5

Eleven-year-old Miller’s favorite day of the year is Fair Friday, the opening day of his Connecticut town’s annual fair. This year, the science whiz is trying to prove that he is responsible enough to go to the fair with his best friend, Lewis, not with a parent—a struggle for independence that middle-grade readers will doubtlessly relate to. But even before Fair Friday arrives, things start to go wrong: Miller accidentally serves his father’s pie (which was intended to be entered in a baking contest at the fair) as an afterschool snack. Then, due to parental work and illness, Miller gets stuck taking his six-year-old sister and her two friends to the fair. Ghost sightings, lost first-graders, and Miller’s attempts to get his father’s mostly eaten pie into the contest make for a very different Fair Friday than Miller expected. Bulion (The Trouble with Rules) captures the boisterous, chaotic nature of the fair, as well as its primacy in the grade-school social calendar. Dormer’s characteristically sketchy and childlike illustrations match the upbeat mood of this entertaining story. Ages 8–12. (Aug.)