|Almost there and almost not|
Author: Urban, Linda
When her father goes away, eleven-year-old California "Callie" Poppy winds up with her eccentric Great-Aunt Monica and their ancestor, the once-famous etiquette expert Eleanor Fontaine, now a hypersensitive ghost.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.30
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 511500
School Library Journal (04/09/21)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/04/21)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 04/09/2021 Gr 4 Up—In this poignant tale of dealing with ghosts, both literal and figurative, 11-year-old California Poppy, who is white, hasn't had it easy; her mom died a few years ago, and her dad isn't very attentive. Now her dad has an opportunity to earn some money in Alaska—but that's no place for a girl, according to him, so California is sent to one aunt, and then another while he's away. As California gets settled in at her Great-Aunt Monica's house, she discovers some unique housemates: the ghost of her ancestor, Eleanor; a famous etiquette expert; and Dog, another ghost, who brings her scraps of paper on which mysterious notes are written. Soon, California is helping Great-Aunt Monica, learning how to write proper letters from Eleanor, and playing with Dog. Things seem pretty great, but California knows it could all change if she has to leave again. This tale of friendly ghosts is more appropriate for fans of realistic fiction than spooky stories; the text, sprinkled with California's letters to everyone from her Aunt Isabel to a tampon company, infuses the text with the girl's personality. California blossoms from a girl with low self-esteem into someone who believes in herself, her talents, and her family's love. Urban's gentle treatment of tough topics like loss, neglect, and alcoholism makes them accessible for younger readers. VERDICT Characters shine in this story of unlikely friendships and familial love; a solid addition to any middle grade collection.—Alison Glass, Dwight Sch. Lib., New York, NY - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/15/2021 Shortly after Callie’s single-parent father drops her off at Aunt Isabelle’s house in Minnesota, the 11-year-old is passed along to Aunt Monica in Michigan instead. Grieving since her husband’s death, Aunt Monica attempts to rise to the occasion, enlisting the girl’s help in researching the life of her husband’s great-great-great-aunt Eleanor, an etiquette-guide writer. The book’s title refers to its two semitransparent ghost characters: Eleanor and her dog. Only Callie sees and interacts with them, and eventually they depart. In the meantime, Aunt Monica has come to a decision. Pulling herself out of her period of mourning, she steps up to become the stable, loving guardian that Callie has needed all along. Urban depicts her main character, motherless since she was seven, as a forthright girl with low expectations and a high degree of resilience. As the story’s narrator, Callie is open with readers about her actions and conversations with those around her, but her backstory (including her father’s alcoholism) emerges more slowly. This original middle-grade novel is sometimes amusing and, in the end, moving. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.