The eponymous rising fifth grader is a Canadian girl who is determined to earn enough points over the summer to be a contestant for Junior Journalist at Cantilever’s newspaper, the Town Crier.
Kiddo’s first stumbling block is the fact that her poor spelling almost makes her ineligible, until her mother intervenes—with a clever use of logic—to raise Kiddo’s final grades on her report card. The ignorance of learning disabilities combines with other clues to let readers familiar with Canadian history and culture know the setting is probably the 1970s. It is unfortunate for young U.S. readers that there is no date or overt historical clue early on; they may immediately dismiss Kiddo’s language and behavior as oddly corny and immature instead of as representative of kids in a different era. Some preteen readers will either giggle nervously or stop reading at the early description of Kiddo’s older sister’s trainer-bra antics. Kiddo narrates the story with gusto, and readers who stay with it will enjoy the neighborhood camaraderie, small-town adventures, character types, and even illustrations that emulate Beverly Cleary’s chapter books. Kiddo’s presumed-white, affectionate, working-class family has friends with both East Asian and South Asian names. An abundance of humor in all its forms moves the plot and its many subplots to satisfying conclusions.
Retro fun for persistent readers. (Historical fiction. 8-11)