There's nothing ten-year-old Lily Sinclair likes about her new life in the city with her single mom. She misses her best friend, who seems to have forgotten her and their secret place, Willowood. She never sees her mom, who's working long hours at her new job. She's managed to make an enemy of the class bully. Mrs. Hiller from across the hall, who takes care of Lily after school, keeps preparing yucky healthy snacks for her. And she can't get her mother to tell her anything about her absent father. Her only source of comfort is her beloved pet gecko, Weemis. Everything changes when Mrs. Hiller introduces Lily to the owner of the Pet Palace, a nearby pet store, and his adult Down's syndrome son, Nate Lily finds herself with an unofficial after school job--and forges a tentative friendship with Nate that's threatened by a dark secret about Nate Lily knows nothing about.
Galante (The Patron Saint of Butterflies) writes a heartfelt story of friendship and change. When Lily's single-parent mother gets a new job, the fifth-grader isn't happy about moving to a bigger city ("Their lives had been so perfect back home in Glenview, where everything was quiet and green"). Lily sorely misses her best friend, Bailey, and their secret place under a willow tree. With her mother working long hours and Bailey too busy to talk on the phone, Lily's closest confidante might be Weemis, her pet gecko. Although some people-her babysitter, Mrs. Hiller; Gina, the class nerd; and a pet shop owner who offers Lily a part-time job-make kind overtures, Lily doesn't recognize the value of their friendships until actions she takes result in hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Galante has a knack for small details (like Lily contemplating that neither she nor her mother know how to braid hair) and fully formed characters that make the story inviting and authentic. Lily emerges as a likable, realistically flawed heroine; her courage and integrity, illustrated in her determination to make things right, will win readers' respect. Ages 9-13. (Mar.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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March 08, 2010
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