Gr 4-8--Harriet Flores is lonely. Her camp friends won't return her postcards, her parents work all day, and she's stuck all summer inside her family's new apartment with the TV on and school books she'd rather ignore. Harriet's parents send her to help their elderly downstairs neighbor Pearl, who sets Harriet to working on a scrapbook for Pearl's grandson. Through conversations with Pearl, a new diary, and revelations about her building's mysterious third floor and by being honest with herself and with her parents, Harriet learns to wield her creative powers against loneliness and unease. Bored and fussy, she entertains unfounded suspicions that the mailman and Pearl are harboring secret criminal intentions. Unfortunately, while she is reprimanded for making up these stories, that both targets of Harriet's suspicions have dark skin goes unaddressed. Readers who stick by Harriet discover the source of much of her anxieties: a recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. An author's note and suggested further reading further highlight invisible disabilities, a topic infrequently depicted in literature. Little details make the book more inclusive from a gender and sexuality standpoint: Harriet nurses fleeting crushes on other girls, and a scrapbook photo depicts her father rocking pink hair and a crop top. The wide-eyed, expressive characters and reassuring art are well suited to this introspective narrative. VERDICT A secondary purchase for collections where contemplative graphic novels are popular.-Darla Salva Cruz, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NYCopyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
In her middle grade debut, comics creator Searle slowly unspools the story of a middle schooler living with multiple sclerosis. Harriet ("Harry") Flores, 13, is a solitary girl whose family has just moved to Chicago. While her parents work, she spends long summer days alone in a hot row house apartment, wondering about a possible upstairs haunting, penning chipper postcards to former friends, and venturing only as far as the mailbox and downstairs to visit her grandmotherly landlady, Pearl. The dialogue conceals her innermost thoughts, but hints surface when Harry learns about Pearl's son Nicholas, who suffered from polio as a child and experienced isolation similar to her own. After Pearl shares the books Nicholas read while in quarantine (Harry cannot abide The Secret Garden but devours Peter and Wendy), she confesses her fears--about friendlessness and being sick--in letters to an imagined Nicholas. In jewel-toned art, Searle successfully creates a claustrophobic, lonesome ambience. An author's note discusses invisible disabilities and chronic illness, and offers resources for further reading. Ages 9-14. (May)Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
"Heartfelt and heartwarming, highlighting the power of story to both conceal and reveal."—starred, Kirkus Reviews