Thanks to the #kidlitexchange network for the free review copy of his book – all opinions are my own.
SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):
Eleven-year-old Derby Christmas Clark is a rambler of the road. She travels year-round in an RV with her father and younger brother, selling Christmas trees during the cold months and burgers and fries during baseball season. Derby always did prefer grease splatters to hauling trees, so she’s excited that summer will take her back to small town Ridge Creek, the Rockskippers, her best friend, and her surrogate mom, June. But this summer, a tragedy has changed Ridge Creek—and as Derby tries to help those she loves, long-held secrets are revealed. This warm-hearted southern debut is perfect for fans of Kate DiCamillo and Sheila Turnage.
This is one of those books that just grabs your heart and never really let’s go. There’s a lot of emotion in the story, young characters experiencing some pretty huge life events, learning how to navigate their feelings and reactions, as well as those of the people around them. I definitely see the parallel to DiCamillo’s writing in this aspect.
I think young readers will benefit from the way that the characters in this book, Derby especially, deal with these different events they’re faced with (ranging from sibling disagreements, to friendship spats, to death). There’s the expected “young person reaction”, but there’s also a level of grace that is shown throughout these pages that I think is very important for young people to be exposed to.
And finally: baseball. I absolutely loved that this book took place around the town’s love of the home team. I don’t really have any other way to say it: I just loved it. It was such a great summertime story. Reading it at any time throughout the year will instantly transport the reader to the middle of June and summer vacation. This one is definitely worth your time.
Highly recommend: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Book stats: Hardcover, 224 pages, HMH Books for Young Readers, February 28, 2017