Looking Up

Aladdin. Oct. 2023. 240p. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9781665929622.
Gr 3-7–Saint (named after the football team) is a face-loving (will eat nothing with a face), piñata-saving girl, who claims her mom breaks all of her promises. The latest proof of this shortcoming comes in the form of Saint’s mom not being able to attend an egg toss, which henceforth eliminates the chance of Saint winning the shopping spree at her favorite toy store, Punches Toy Farm. When Punches is demolished to become a coffee shop, it is just one more casualty in their small town. Across the street lives shy, Daniel “Chance” McGibbons, who likes to draw (his imaginary friend, Timmy) and walks with a cane. When Daniel’s house goes up for sale, Saint’s life partner, a painted turtle named Dr. Rutherford B. Hayes, gives out sage wisdom about life and changes. Daniel and Saint try to thwart buyers from buying the house, knowing it will get bulldozed like much of their town. Readers will rally around Daniel, Saint, and elderly toy store owner Muffins, while seeing the dilemmas faced by Saint’s mom and Daniel’s uncle, who are struggling to make ends meet and care for their children. With this hilarious book and its comical black-and-white illustrations throughout, Pastis (Timmy Failure) once again reaches out to reluctant readers with a multilayered tale of loss, grief, and growing up.
VERDICT With an imaginative ending that will make readers think, there is more than meets the eye in this funny gem.

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