Newly arrived in a small Cornish town, 12-year-old Binny Cornwallis struggles to find her footing as disasters and mysteries pile up inexorably.
Hardly has she had time to get decisively off on the wrong foot on the first day of school and so become victim of a campaign of petty harassment led by classmate Clare, than a destructive gale forces Binny and her family into a hasty temporary move to an isolated cottage. There, one of her little brother’s chickens is snatched (by a rare lynx or, as young James puts it, a “jagular”), and the brusque new landlady turns out to be…Clare’s mom. With masterful comic timing McKay spins a whirl of horrifying yet hilarious admissions, mishaps, tart exchanges, and domestic tempests, as well as profoundly affecting discoveries and epiphanies, around her intense, sensitive, impulsive protagonist. Usually hilarious, that is—along with a poignant subplot, told in flashbacks, about a trio of siblings who summered in the cottage before and during World War I, the author weaves in mutually harrowing encounters between Binny and a rifle-toting neighbor. (Player’s illustrations not seen.)
There’s never a dull moment in the Cornwallis household—nor one not rich with love and laughter. Fans of Binny for Short (2013) will welcome this second chance to look in on the commotion. (Fiction. 11-13)