A slight mystery casts a shadow over New Amity.
Sarah and Lizzie are 11-year-old BFFs in a small New Hampshire town where Lizzie’s family owns an orchard. This summer, to their great delight, they get to run the ice cream stand. If they net $5,000, they will have enough money for their dream: a Halloween zombie hayride. Things start to go awry for Sarah when twins Peter and Olive show up and join the formerly two-person team. Sarah frets constantly that Lizzie will no longer be her friend; sharing is an unwelcome thought. Then a crisis occurs when the ice cream earnings disappear from the safe. Atwood characterizes her cast with descriptive but underdeveloped diversity. Sarah’s grandparents are from Iran, and she has “beige-brown skin.” Lizzie has “pale skin.” The twins have “huge brown eyes, medium-dark-brown skin, and curly hair,” and their two dads are Mr. and Mr. Wu. The whole town is something of a multicultural Platonic ideal. Hakeem observes Ramadan, and Aaron wears an apron that reads “KISS ME, I’M JEWISH.” Sveta and Dani Alvarez are a local power couple. None of the children use cellphones or computers. Readers may very well ponder why a town that holds Sunday morning Community Spirit meetings is so gung-ho to finance a Halloween activity and not a worthy cause. Digitized line drawings introduce each chapter in this first of a series for each season.
Enjoy a scoop of ice cream instead. (Fiction. 8-11)