Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2017 Gr 3–5—While spending the summer with her aunt and uncle in small-town Pennsylvania, inquisitive Effie Starr Zook tries to uncover family secrets. Hailing from New York City, Effie isn't thrilled about having to spend the summer at Zook Farm while her parents fly around the world in a solar airplane. When she meets the Yoder kids and learns they are supposed to stay away from her because of "bad blood" between their families, she wonders what the story is behind that. Then she befriends Mr. Odbody, a bookstore owner and the only black person in town, who seems to know more than he will tell her. Do all these secrets lead back to her great-grandfather, inventor of the barf bag? With skilled writing and a consistently paced plot, this is an accessible and exciting story for a wide range of readers. The mystery is enticing, but the larger focus is on the interconnectedness of people despite differences and the importance of the pursuit of truth. Freeman tackles issues of class, gender, race, and politics in a way that is appropriate for the intended audience and never feels heavy-handed. VERDICT A stellar blend of appealing plot and relevant themes; an excellent addition to middle grade collections.—Jenna Friebel, Oak Park Public Library, IL - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/15/2017 Effie Zook and her parents are “well-fixed” because Effie’s great-grandfather invented, among other things, the barf bag. That’s why her parents can spend the summer traversing the world in an experimental solar plane, while Effie has to stay with her aunt and uncle outside the tiny town in rural Pennsylvania where Great-Grandpa Gus lived. It doesn’t take long for Effie to realize the town is full of secrets, kooks, and the history of the Zooks. The kooks include the Yoder family, whose members, including potential friend Moriah, live by a weird credo that involves long beards and a boatload of “precepts.” The secrets include rumblings about her family, but she can’t get anyone to spill the beans. That means she has to become her own detective to find out what exactly the truth is about the Zook clan. The story rolls along well, though the resolution might be a bit convoluted for the audience; it’s a good thing the explanation is given more than once. But Effie is a sprightly heroine whose surprising summer makes for fun reading. - Copyright 2017 Booklist.