A (nearly) 10-year-old girl adjusts to country living after moving with her family from the city.
City child Rebecca renames herself Becket when she moves with her family to the country, where her veterinarian parents take over the vet clinic near the farm where her father grew up. Becket is noisy, confident, and full of life, narrating in an enthusiastic first person, present tense. She announces “Beautiful Alerts” when she sees beauty—a sunset, a thunderstorm, Gran—and says something when she sees something, often to amusing effect (“Stranger Danger!” she warns her mother at the country train station, when a man asks the time). In fact, Becket is a regular laundry list of confidently delivered safety sayings, and it’s just one of her many original and sparkling traits. What doesn’t sparkle, however, is the story’s subtle undercurrent of admonition directed at Becket’s boisterousness and confidence. “A little lower,” the camp counselor tells her. “Lower the volume,” her father says. These messages, underscoring the societal notion that girls should be quiet and self-effacing, are not delivered to boy characters and are, thankfully, ignored by Becket. Otherwise, the storyline is warm and amusing as Becket and her two siblings navigate their new life on a farm. A brown-skinned family from Peru on a nearby alpaca farm adds some diversity, as do the black-presenting friends who visit the Branches from the city; the Branches themselves are white. Pham’s energetic spot art enhances Griffin’s characterizations.
The ebullience of an irrepressible female protagonist is occasionally threatened by gender-typing in this otherwise entertaining story. (Fiction. 8-10)