Mo Wren can’t imagine living anywhere but Fox Street—until her father buys a rundown restaurant on East 213th Street. Newly named The Wren House, it lacks the tightly knit community that she loves, needs a total revamping and supposedly is cursed!
This sequel to What Happened on Fox Street (2010) reintroduces the likable characters from the first book: Mo’s “wild child” sister, Dottie; her unhandy father; and elderly neighbors that she misses terribly. But new ones emerge to fill her emotional cracks: Shawn, a hyperkinetic classmate, and Carmella, owner of the Soap Opera Laundromat and nurturer of the neighborhood. When the restoration of the restaurant goes awry, Mo begins to think it is cursed, especially on the night of the opening, when a freak blizzard hits. Plot details are often foreseeable and convenient but nevertheless believable; readers won't be surprised that Dottie’s pet lizard gets loose and can’t be found or that the homeless handyman helps with the makeover, but these elements fit right in cozily. The correlation between the Laundromat’s lost and found (providing a needed article at the right time) and Mo’s feelings are subtle but nicely tied together (a yellow sweater reminds Mo of her dead mother).
Taken all together, the spunk of the primary characters, the dialogue and the “home-is-where-you-make-it” underlying message serve up a plateful of enjoyable story. And there’s room for thirds. (Sketches not seen.) (Fiction. 8-12)