School Library Journal
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Gr 1–4—The latest book from "Tales from Deckawoo Drive" might be DiCamillo's most charming offering yet in the series. The tale focuses on Franklin, a young biracial boy and the older brother of the unflappable Stella, also neighbor to sisters Eugenia and Baby Lincoln. Unfortunately, this serious boy is struggling with his overwhelming worries (among them, lions, leprosy, submarines, and black holes), which he fastidiously catalogues in a notebook. Franklin's itemizing of fears eventually evolves into nightmares that keep him awake. He finds himself turning to hot milk for relief and visits Eugenia, who is suffering from insomnia. The unlikely pair have a seemingly mundane but divinely inspired adventure that breaks the routine of Franklin's anxiety and opens a door previously unknown to him. Van Dusen's familiar illustrations bring the Mercy Watson universe to life in shiny-cheeked caricatures, honoring the small-town vibe of the series. The book is rife with challenging vocabulary, such as cavalier, efficacy, procure, and eclecticism. The tale is as uplifting as it is literary, and the author tells a genuine story that may inspire readers to be like Franklin, a child open to receiving his very own mysterious, life-changing key. VERDICT A must-have for libraries looking for engaging early chapter books, and a compelling read-aloud. DiCamillo pens a glorious love letter to childhood uncertainty and the powerful and transformative world of reading.—Rachel Joiner, Advent Episcopal Sch., Bessemer, AL