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WILLOWOOD by Cecilia Galante

WILLOWOOD

By Cecilia Galante

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: March 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4169-8022-3
Publisher: Aladdin

Although less tightly woven than Frances O’Roark Dowell’s tween stories, Galante’s third novel tenderly explores the impact of friendship, family and bullying on preteen girls. The biggest adjustment for Lily Sinclair when she is forced to move to the city after her single mother loses her job is leaving behind her best friend and Willowood, their secret tree-canopy hangout. The beginning of fifth grade holds little promise, as her essays receive poor grades, she becomes the brunt of snooty Amanda’s class pranks and her mother refuses to provide details about her missing father. The year takes a turn for the better when the lizard-loving girl befriends a pet-store owner, his grown son, Nate, with Down syndrome, and the class nerd, who shares Amanda’s wrath, and she finds a new place to call her own in an abandoned apartment. Adding more details to her essays and life, Lily discovers that her nontraditional family is what makes her unique. While Nate’s speech is inconsistent, Lily’s growing maturity will strike a chord with young readers experiencing their own changes. (Fiction. 9-12)