Leaving hurts, but Violet Mackerel finds something that helps.
The thoughtful protagonist of Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot (2012) first develops her Theory of Leaving Small Things Behind when her family leaves the beach house where they’ve spent a lovely holiday. Then her mother and her boyfriend, Vincent, announce their plans to marry and move to a larger place. Violet’s excited about the wedding but nervous about the move. Her older brother, Dylan, wanting none of it, relocates to a tent in the garden. The third-person, present-tense narrative convincingly sticks to Violet’s point of view as she and her family negotiate this tricky time. The gentle tone reflects the (nearly unbelievable) patience and understanding with which the adults deal with Dylan’s unhappiness and involve Violet and her sister, Nicola, in their plans. Fourth in a series of books now grown to six in New Zealand, this is similarly insightful about family dynamics. As always, in the U.S. illustrations, the “O” in Violet’s name on the cover and title page as well as the final grayscale illustrations inside (not seen) reflect small things from the story.
It is no small thing for a 7-year-old to cope with change. Branford offers chapter-book readers an appealing model. (Fiction. 6-10)