cover image Final Word (The Winterton Deception #1)

Final Word (The Winterton Deception #1)

Janet Sumner Johnson. Pixel + Ink, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-64595-196-4

Thirteen-year-old twins uncover their newfound family’s closely guarded secrets in this rousing series launch from Sumner Johnson (the Recess Genius series). Siblings Hope and Gordon Smith share a one-room motel apartment with their mother, who works constantly to make ends meet. The kids learn their late father was the Winterton Dictionary tycoons’ youngest son, and they have disparate reactions: Hope, who distrusts rich people after being rejected by a wealthy friend, wants nothing to do with his family. Gordon, however, yearns to join the Winterton clan, despite their not knowing that the twins exist, and he registers himself and Hope to compete for one of two non-Winterton slots in the annual Winterton Family Spelling Bee. Hope reluctantly participates, hoping the prize money will help their mom, but upon making the cut, realizes she underestimated her rivals. Luckily, the siblings learn that the recently deceased Winterton matriarch left behind clues to a literary treasure hidden on the estate. In this nuanced first-person narrative, clever riddles, high-stakes competition, and fraught family drama keep the pages turning, while keenly rendered characters, who cue as white, discover the value of kindness, the harm of preconceived notions, and the folly of equating wealth with happiness. Ages 8–12. Agent: Lauren Galit, LKG Agency. (Oct.)