After her grandmother’s move to Florida, future investigative reporter Clara Costa finds life with just her ditzy mother, Gaby, maddeningly unpredictable.
Now Clara and Gaby live in Toronto’s lively, diverse Kensington Market neighborhood in an apartment above Healing Herbs. There, Gaby diagnoses ills and dispenses unscientific remedies. Clara misses her grandmother’s practical, predictable ways. On the bright side, Clara’s bonded with classmate Maeve, a budding actress who’s appreciative of Clara’s colorful, chaotic home. Clara hopes to prove herself as a reporter for the school paper, but the knitting-club profile that Wesley, the ambitious grade-eight editor, assigns Clara offers little scope for her talents. Next, Wesley wants Clara to write a horoscope column: Clara Voyant. Meanwhile, the school mascot, Buzzter the Honeybee (an aging piñata), is stolen. This mystery’s a perfect match for Clara’s investigative talents, but skeptic Clara is stuck with astrological predictions. When these come true, she’s perplexed and intrigued. She also hunts for Buzzter, knowing it’ll be a terrific scoop if she can find him. Clara and the book’s default are white, with the abundant diversity primarily indicated through naming convention; Maeve is biracial and Chinese-Canadian. The plot hums along briskly, but the humor wobbles. At its best—Wesley’s a case in point—it’s dry, succinct, and funny, but Gaby’s more caricature than character. While the plot has amusing twists and turns, the author waffles on the existence of clairvoyance itself.
A lightweight but enjoyable read. (Fiction. 8-12)