In her diary, Gracie Lockwood records her family’s flight for the fabled Extraordinary World, where magic doesn’t exist.
Twelve-year-old Gracie lives in Cliffden, Maine, with her eccentric, meteorologist father; hippie-manqué, musician mother; irritating older sister, Millie; and sweet, sickly little brother, Sam. In hopes of escaping the Dark Cloud that has clearly come to take Sam, the family piles into a Winnebago to head south and then west, chasing the hope that the Extraordinary World both exists and will be a safe haven. Along the way they pick up Oliver, orphaned in a sasquatch attack, and then a sasquatch, a trio of pegasuses, and a guardian angel named Virgil. Gracie’s sparkling narrative voice is funny, smart, and convincingly ingenuous. Anderson builds a magic-filled world where the Industrial Revolution “got sort of cut in half,” dragons migrate annually from Britain to South America, and 7-Elevens line the highways till the wilderness takes over. Though Anderson acknowledges the indigenous peoples of North America and those brought over as slaves, her story is firmly grounded in an alternative, modern United States populated by the descendants of Europeans. Gracie and her family are tested sorely, and readers will be rooting for them to the last page.
An endearing narrator, a beguiling world that accommodates both mermaids and Pixy Stix, and a genuinely moving family story propel this adventure for readers who don’t look too hard at the details. (Fantasy. 9-13)