After the disappointment of taking on too much for Halloween, Mallory decides she needs to be more philanthropic for the next holiday in this 28th and final tale.
Planning to spend part of Halloween evening at a party and part trick-or-treating fails completely, leaving very earnest fifth-grader Mallory frustrated. She needs to do better for Thanksgiving. With guidance from her mom, Mallory decides a food-drive competition among the grades at her school would be perfect. Her friend Joey offers to help when his stepsister, Mary Ann, turns Mallory down. That gives Mallory room to smugly reflect on the girls’ gradual separation and Mary Ann’s unfortunate self-focus. With the school administration agreeing to the plan, Mallory and Joey launch their drive but immediately run into unexpected (but very believable) issues. As cans accumulate and then get mixed up, it becomes impossible to figure out which grade won the prize of a homework-free week. Some classmates blame Joey and Mallory—selfishly missing completely the good they’ve done. Nearly all the classmates depicted in Kalis’ simple, boldly outlined illustrations are white like Mallory, Joey, and Mary Ann, but their teacher is black, and the food-bank representative is Asian. This mild, predictable, ever-so-sincere tale, the last in the long-running series, features a feel-good conclusion with a heavy-handed message.
While readers can celebrate Mallory’s widening outlook on the world, they may yearn for a little less vanilla-flavored syrup. (Fiction. 7-11)