(A Pumpkin Falls Mystery)
by Heather Vogel Frederick
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Truly Lovejoy is an absolutely plucky twelve year old heroine who is seriously entertaining and fun. Truly is not having any fun at all. Uprooted from what was supposed to be her forever home in Austin, Texas, the family goes back to her father's roots in teensy Pumpkin, Falls, New Hampshire. They move into her great, great, great, well... many great-grandfather's home and her father takes over the challenge of running a small town family owned book store with his sister (Truly's aunt).
Truly is from a large family: four siblings and her mother and father. Her dad used to be fun...that is, until he came home from the war. It's hard for her father to re-enter normal life as an amputee (he lost an arm). He's not happy to have to move, let alone run a bookstore and live in the old family home. His injury and PTSD are dictating his life and he feels trapped.
The small town charm, snowy paths, cold weather, bare trees, the charming book store, quirky town folk, the large house which has housed generations of Lovejoys, and the warmth of a family who loves one another make this book a real Norman Rockwell moment--one that readers are sure to love. So many kids will relate to this book. Any reader who has a parent in the military, anyone who's had to move cross country and felt like a fish out of water, any geeky or awkward tween will find something to love in this book. Truly is six feet tall and towers over all the other middle school kids. That alone would be enough to make her a social pariah, but add to that---being the outsider from out of town surely makes Truly the different one--the new girl.
When Truly finds a strange note in a first edition of Charlotte's Web, she senses a mystery--a mystery that she sets out to solve. The mystery is quite tame, nearly too tame, for my taste. A bit more danger and skullduggery would have made it more exciting but then that would take away from the book's timeless charm.
The cover art captures a nearly bygone era. The covered bridge, snow and walking figures look like a page from a Rockwell calendar. Pumpkin Falls is a charming name for a small town, and the addition of a mystery--though tame-- will draw in readers.
Highly, highly recommended grade 4-up. Most reviewers agree that this is THE go to book for tween girls.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
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