Six Feet Below Zero

Holiday House. Apr. 2021. 288p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823446223.
Gr 4-7–When their parents died in a car accident three years ago, 12-year-old Rosie and her brother Baker were sent to live with their Great Grammy, who lived in an old house on ten acres of land. Great Grammy had always been strange, especially once she started doing things like ordering a deep freezer and enough food to prepare for an apocalypse. The book opens with Rosie and Baker coming home from school to find Great Grammy dead in her chair with a note requesting to be put into the freezer until their Aunt Tilly, who is researching a book in Iceland and unreachable, returns. Soon the siblings’ lives turn into a charade of keeping their great-grandmother’s death a secret, especially from their grandmother Grim Hesper, who wants to sell the land, pocket the money, and send them to separate boarding schools. Suspension of disbelief is required on the readers’ part as the siblings keep their Great Grammy’s death a secret from the next-door neighbors, the police, teachers, and their own grandmother. Unexpected close calls (a visitor from the National Association of Graveyard Preservation, and a tree falling on the roof) add some humor and keep the plot moving. Rosie, Baker, and Rosie’s best friend Karleen are well-developed characters, but Aunt Tilly is absent aside from saving the day, and Grim Hesper’s only motive throughout the story is getting money. The subplots, including Rosie and Karleen saving a runt puppy, are compelling and leave audiences wanting to know how each thread wraps up. Readers will ultimately find humor in the series of unfortunate events Rosie and Baker encounter, and become invested in their determination to continue living in Great Grammy’s house.
VERDICT Jones’ novel isn’t perfect, but its shortcomings are mild enough that this quirky title is still a good fit for medium to large collections.

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