It’s 1963, and 12-year-old Jack struggles to cope with his mom’s depression after his baby sister’s sudden death.
Jack was interested in The Guinness Book of Records even before he found his baby sister Annie dead in her crib, but since then, he’s been determined to break a record, any record, in an effort to distract his mother from her severe depression. She spends most days in bed even though Annie died over a year ago, and his dad tries to keep the family going. Jack first decides to rock a rocking chair for three days, then to eat a record number of sausages far too quickly, failing both times. However, he meets Kate, a new girl in his small Ontario town, and starts working on a new project: With help from Kate’s music-teacher mom, he’ll sing his mom’s favorite Perry Como song. Stevenson keeps the tone light but the story serious as Jack copes with his own grief and his family’s distress. The recent historical setting, which includes newly introduced color television and the Kennedy assassination, helps to grant some distance to readers from the heavy emotions surrounding the baby’s death. Jack’s growth as he makes a new friend and works on his performance caps this sensitive exploration with charm.
Perceptive and quite lovely. (Historical fiction. 9-12)