Faith and friendship are at the heart of Bouwman’s (A Crack in the Sea, 2017, etc.) new chapter-book series.
Eight-year old Eleanor has just moved, against her protestations, into a new duplex with her family. Now she’s suddenly forced to share a room with her older sister, and to top it off, her beloved goldfish, Scrumpy IV, has just bought the farm. Eleanor loves Darth Vader and building. The upstairs of the duplex is home to 7-year-old home-schooler Owen, who loves secret codes and fencing. He has not had much experience making friends, much less ones with so forceful a personality as Eleanor. When Eleanor announces her plan to run away, back to her beloved blue house, in order to bury Scrumpy alongside his predecessors and to take up residence herself in the backyard treehouse, Owen is along for a wild ride. Although the story is brief, Bouwman manages to bring depth to each of the protagonists as the narrative shifts between Owen’s and Eleanor’s perspectives, both wrestling with their choices and values. The particular moral and theological bent of the narrative may limit the audience somewhat—Eleanor’s concerns about losing her home are relieved when she’s reminded that her “real home is always with God”—but the overarching themes of friendship, familial love, and resiliency in the face of change are fairly universal. Brown-skinned Eleanor has a mixed heritage, with a Costa Rican–born father and American-born mother, while Owen presents white.
A sweet start ripe for more installments. (Fiction. 5-9)