cover image Return to Augie Hobble

Return to Augie Hobble

Lane Smith. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-62672-054-1

What is happening to Augie Hobble? Despite obvious artistic talent (he liberally illustrates this summer-of-transformation story with his own drawings), he has flunked creative arts class and must redo his final project. He’s also obligated to work spearing garbage at Fairy Tale Place, a run-down amusement park managed by his father. Plans to while away the summer with his best friend evaporate and a rendezvous with Cinderella, a park character played by a fellow middle schooler, results in a possible werewolf attack. At this point, Augie’s comic but conventional story takes unexpected turns. Pets go missing. Eerie entries appear in Augie’s journal. Hair sprouts in odd places. Is this puberty or something more sinister? A major tragedy occurs for which Augie feels responsible, but two-time Caldecott Honoree Smith, in his first novel, does an impeccable job of introducing heartbreak while keeping the mood light. Augie is a good-hearted kid whose wry humor makes him a companionable narrator. Readers may feel as disoriented as Augie when Smith shifts from recognizable ground to add an otherworldly dimension, but it works because Augie deserves an ending that makes him whole again. Ages 8–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)