by Cynthia Rylant
Beach Lane Books
Middle Grade Contemporary
ages 8 to 12
From Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant comes the charming story of nine-year-old Flora Smallwood and the eventful year she spends in the quiet community of Rosetown, Indiana.
For nine-year-old Flora Smallwood, Rosetown, Indiana, is full of surprises, many of the best of which happen at the Wing and a Chair Used Book Shop, where she loves to read vintage children’s books after school in the faded purple chair by the window.
But lately, those surprises haven’t been so good. Her dear old dog, Laurence, recently passed away. Not long after, her parents decided to take a breather from their marriage, and now Flora has to move back and forth between their two houses. Plus, she’s just begun fourth grade, and it is so much different than third.
Luckily Flora has two wonderful friends—one old and one new. And with them around to share thoughts and laughs and adventures big and small, life in Rosetown still has many sweet moments—and even some very happy surprises!
With a gentleness fitting to the town of Rosetown, a girl discovers the wonders of friendship and how life works its own unexpected twists and turns.
Flora is a little down since her dog died. Having her parent separated and switching between two different bedrooms isn't making matters better. But the friendship with a new boy at school as well as the connection to a friend she already knows, offers more upswing than she could have ever suspected.
This isn't a book with high adventure, nor is there an overdose on tension. Rather, this is a story which mirrors an average girl and her path out of a down point in life. Flora isn't at a happy moment in life. However, she's not overly depressed or dragging tons of baggage either. Flora is simply at one of those times where several things have gone wrong and she's not feeling quite herself—it's true to life and holds a situation kids can easily identify with. The ways she deals with this follow a split path of wonderful chance moments along the way as well as healthier decisions on her part. In other words, it's a nice balance and offers gentle, real life glances readers can connect to.
Flora and her friends find support with each other and overcome obstacles by working together. The adults also offer support at the right times, although it's the kids' efforts which find solutions to problems like a sprained wrist and the last important test before a dog diploma. There's a nice amount of life's wonders built in as Flora and her friends discover happiness in possibilities they never knew existed for them.
This is a wonderful read for those who enjoy true life journeys, friendship and the brilliant hope life can offer.
And here she is. . .
Cynthia Rylant is the author of more than 100 books for young people, including the beloved Henry and Mudge, Annie and Snowball, Brownie & Pearl, and Mr. Putter & Tabby series. Her novel Missing May received the Newberry Medal. She lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Visit her at CynthiaRylant.com.