New York City is the setting of Newbery Honor winner Martin’s (A Corner of the Universe, 2002) latest, which deftly explores the discord between two sisters.
Just barely nine, Pearl Littlefield, at times wise beyond her years, knows all too well that being the younger sister of a 14-year-old has its ups and downs. To keep harmony, Pearl needs to figure out how to live with Lexie without irritating her. This is especially hard now that they are forced to share a tiny bedroom because their grandfather, Daddy Bo, is living with them while he awaits his move to an assisted-living facility. To keep the peace, Pearl makes the titular list. “Rule #3. Try not to tease Lexie, sometimes this is hard because she says stupid things.” Throughout the school year, Pearl discovers that adhering to her rules does make a difference. Pearl, as narrator, shows herself to be a keen observer of the people around her and mature enough to handle some sticky situations, all with a sense of humor and aplomb. Readers will welcome Pearl’s insights as she grapples with loneliness after her best friend moves across town, Lexie’s frequent outbursts and her concern for Daddy Bo as he grows increasingly forgetful.
Martin has a gift for creating appealing characters in an atmosphere of caring and forgiveness. (Fiction. 9-12)