Future entrepreneur Cleo, unlike most fifth-graders, has her career path laid out; a new school assignment gives her the opportunity to jump-start her plans.
Cleo’s effervescent and upbeat, full of creative business ideas she tends to execute before securing the proper approvals from her loving adoptive parents. She counts on her best friend, Caylee Ortega, a born organizer, to make her ideas workable. Cleo’s not all about the money. Her role model is an inspirational entrepreneur/celebrity with heart who advocates giving back to the community. Cleo secretly fantasizes she is her real birth mother, not the African-American–Filipino birth mother who gave Cleo her name, baby clothes, and stuffed toy, Beary, but has avoided contact. It’s different for Cleo’s little brothers. Their birth mother visits regularly and brings presents—even for Cleo. Canceling the dreaded fifth-grade family-tree project (creating and displaying their family trees is tough for kids with complex or difficult histories), her teacher assigns passion projects, encouraging students to explore their interests in depth. Cleo’s passion is business; her project, removing her classmates’ loose baby teeth with a Nerf gun. (Adults and even some kids will wonder how her otherwise responsible parents and teacher give even limited permission for this.) Frazier offers a rare, cleareyed view of adoption, understanding that even the best are founded on loss as well as love and that assimilating this bittersweet, difficult truth is a lifelong journey.
A funny, compassionate tale. (Fiction. 8-12)