Overwhelmed by a new school and worried about her little sister, Amber draws a lively Dream Dad to give her fatherly advice.
Originally published in England, Shevah’s funny yet poignant first novel makes its American debut. Eleven-year-old Londoner Amber is half-Japanese and half-Italian, but her Japanese father has not been in touch since she was young. Her younger sister, Bella, writes a letter to invite their dad to her birthday party. Feeling protective, Amber responds as their dad, inadvertently convincing Bella that their father will attend her party. In addition, Amber does not fit in with the other girls in her middle school, she has a crush on a boy, and a teacher forces her to enter the school’s art contest. Drawing and creating art is Amber’s refuge, but she’s afraid to show anyone her work. During a fit of sadness, she sketches a Dream Dad and shares all her fears with her drawing. With art as her therapy and witty Dream Dad on her side, Amber realizes that she doesn’t need to navigate life on her own. Shevah tenderly captures the void of growing up without a father yet manages to create a feisty, funny heroine. Crawford-White’s whimsical pen-and-ink illustrations line the margins, as if Amber herself has added the doodles. Chapters are numbered in English, Italian, and Japanese, reflecting Amber’s multicultural identity, but refreshingly, that identity does not drive the plot.
A gutsy girl in a laugh-out-loud book that navigates tough issues with finesse. (Fiction. 9-12)