The Sun Will Come Out by Joanne Levy

Things to love about this Canadian book – the title! The musical Annie is not as ubiquitous as it once was; but, the optimism of the title and the song – Tomorrow - are especially welcome, in April 2021.

The Sun Will Come Out is a coming of age novel. Here, that comes demarcated as our protagonist – Frankie – enters a summer camp world alone. Initially, she clings to her existing definitions of selfhood relative to her family and best friend; but, in her new surroundings they are increasingly meaningless. New relationships – arguably healthier ones – challenge her to redefine herself as more. Frankie spurs herself to try harder, because another friend is selfless and brave despite facing bigger problems. And when another friend needs help that only Frankie can offer – namely, stepping into the role of Annie – she steps beyond her identity as “the shy girl” and sings the songs she’s known by heart all along, with her clear, strong voice. That’s a pretty eloquent metaphor for growing up, isn’t it?

Middle Grade Fiction pr6130334

Trip of the Dead by Angela Misri

Sequels can be disappointing – not this one.

I loved Pickles vs the Zombies. This next installment features Trip - the lone raccoon character - leading an expedition and – eventually - several rescue missions. He befriends a bossy Irish hedgehog,  a squirrel with a fabulous tail (RuPeter) and a creepy boat, a family of beavers, and  - hooray!! - dozens of raccoons.  Trip’s away team includes an assertive, brave, respectful kitten (Yes, Sir! Mr. Trip!) trying to pull above her weight, and Pal the young owl who wipes out every time he lands. The hedgehog is constantly explaining to other animals what a hedgehog is. One of the raccoons, nevertheless, is constantly asking “what kind of raccoon are you, again?”

All of this content really appeals to my sense of humour – which - I flatter myself - is likely on par with the average nine to twelve year-old. One of the funniest characters – ever - is Emmy. She is a maniacal hamster warrior. She makes basically a cameo appearance in a climactic scene where she has engineered a trip rope trap/zombie bonfire. Fear not!

The author’s acknowledgements promise book three will feature Emmy, as the title - Valhamster suggests. I cannot wait! Meanwhile, please recommend this book to anyone who loves to laugh. (I’m hoping that’s everyone.)

Middle Grade Fiction pr5811912

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