Hey, kids, are you saddled with a waaay overprotective mother? A dad who picks his nose? Parents discussing a move to Alaska? See Dewey Fairchild!
Actually, that move to Alaska involves Dewey’s own parents, and as it turns out, he needs some grown-up help redirecting the impulse. Otherwise business is so good that he has an office with a secret entrance and satisfied clients not only from his own fifth-grade class, but even from other schools. He’s ably assisted in his methodical investigations and hilariously canny strategies by still-spry family friend Clara Cottonwood, an unfailing source of both wisdom and cookies, whose glib recitation of the themes of her last 93 birthday parties alone catapults her well over the threshold of awesome. With her help, along with that of several satisfied peer allies and customers rounding out the all-white cast, Dewey tackles parental challenges ranging from spying on the aforementioned nose picker (and seeing things no child should ever see, yuck) to derailing out-of-control cases of germophobia and addiction to practical jokes. His string of triumphs will have readers cheering him on, rolling in the aisles, and wishing they could line up for consultations.
After all, as Horn puts it in this winning debut, “where you found kids, you always found parents who needed some assistance to be, shall we say, their best selves.” Amen to that. (Fiction. 9-12)