What starts out to be a bummer summer turns out well in retrospect.
In spite of the title, alluding to Pearl Littlefield's first outing, Ten Rules for Living with My Sister (2011), this represents her first assignment for fifth grade. It's an essay about summer vacation, written to an outline (supplied in the back and as chapter headings). With her father out of a job, money is tight, and except for a month at camp in New Jersey, Pearl and her older sister Lexie stay home in New York City. Still, there is plenty to write about: rescuing the cat that falls from their apartment window; a serious fight with her best friend, James Brubaker III; exhibiting a painting at her grandfather’s retirement community; pretending to be a tourist during the family’s “staycation”; and starting a business with JBIII after they reconcile. Pearl’s first-person narration is convincing and sprinkled with gentle humor. Martin’s characterizations are clear and distinctive; readers won’t need to have met them in the previous title to feel they know them well. Pearl develops some sympathy for her father’s job search and perhaps even for a hated classmate, and she learns—as readers will—that “you never know what’s around the corner.”
Here’s hoping more unexpected good things are in store for the Littlefield family. (Fiction. 9-12)