Two 8-year-olds with opposite temperaments and personalities make friends.
Quinny, who has a big, irrepressible personality, moves from New York City to the small town of Whisper Valley with her family: her working mother, stay-at-home dad (enlighteningly rendered without comment) and two younger sisters. They move in next door to the quiet, scientifically minded, bookish Hopper, who is bullied by his two older, soccer-playing twin brothers. Late in the book, a more-assertive Hopper hits one of his brothers. His mother rebukes him, remonstrating that “we don’t punch people in this family.” Readers will cheer at Hopper’s funny, dead-on response: “Sure we do. Where have you been?” There’s not a lot of plot in this lightly amusing slice-of-summer novel—Quinny and Hopper make friends, catch and return a chicken to its rightful owner, have a fight, start third grade and make up—but the book is engrossing, and the likable duo change and grow in believable ways. Quinny and Hopper, who take turns narrating, have distinct, well-differentiated voices, and Schanen makes good use of her individuated secondary characters as well. Swearingen’s black-and-white drawings both capture the spirit of the characters and enhance the narrative.
This endearing story about true friendship should appeal equally to boys and girls. (Fiction. 7-10)