Me and Sam-Sam handle the apocalypse

Susan Vaught, 1965-

Book - 2019

""I could see the big inside of my Sam-Sam. I had been training him for 252 days with mini tennis balls and pieces of bacon, just to prove to Dad and Mom and Aunt Gus and the whole world that a tiny, fluffy dog could do big things if he wanted to. I think my little dog always knew he could be a hero. I just wonder if he knew about me." When the cops show up at Jesse's house and arrest her dad, she figures out in a hurry that he's the #1 suspect in the missing library fun...d money case. With the help of her (first and only) friend Springer, she rounds up suspects (leading to a nasty confrontation with three notorious school bullies) and asks a lot of questions. But she can't shake the feeling that she isn't exactly cut out for being a crime-solving hero. Jesse has a neuro-processing disorder, which means that she's "on the spectrum or whatever." As she explains it, "I get stuck on lots of stuff, like words and phrases and numbers and smells and pictures and song lines and what time stuff is supposed to happen." But when a tornado strikes her small town, Jesse is given the opportunity to show what she's really made of -- and help her dad. Told with the true-as-life voice Susan Vaught is known for, this mystery will have you rooting for Jesse and her trusty Pomeranian, Sam-Sam."

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Subjects
Genres
Detective and mystery fiction
Published
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division [2019]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
"A Paula Wiseman Book."
Physical Description
309 pages ; 22 cm
Audience
Ages 8-12
Grade 4-6
ISBN
9781534425019
1534425012
Main Author
Susan Vaught, 1965- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* In a memorable week for Jesse, a devastating tornado comes to her small Kentucky town, she's faced with the traumatic sight of her dad in handcuffs after a large amount of money disappears from his desk at school, and confrontations with a trio of relentless bullies escalate. On top of that, she gains a solid new friend, a mystery to solve (who really took that money?), proof that her Pomeranian Sam-Sam has important hidden talents, and plenty of evidence that being on the spectrum doesn't make her dumb, disabled, broken, or incapable of rising to the occasion. Led by her mom, who is deployed in Iraq but available for Skype conversations, and Springer, a big, quiet new kid who's quick on the uptake when it comes to meltdowns, good at respecting personal space, and not afraid to help with an investigation that ends up implicating school faculty and administration, Jesse gets a sensitive but not (except sometimes for her dad) overprotective support group. Her tale, told partly in flashbacks, ends in a flurry of high notes (with Sam-Sam the hero of the day). Edgar-winning Vaught, a neuropsychologist, has both personal and professional experience to draw on in crafting a narrator who is admirably smart and resilient despite an "itchy" brain and a compulsion to count things. Grades 5-7. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this heartfelt middle grade mystery, an autistic girl becomes an amateur detective after money is stolen from her English teacher father's desk at school and he is blamed for the theft. With the aid of her friend, new kid Springer Regal, and her faithful Pomeranian, Sam-Sam, Jesse Broadview sets out to clear her father by finding the true culprit, along the way repeatedly encountering "Jerkface and his pet cockroaches," a trio of bullies. While the investigation plays out over the course of the week preceding the narrative, a storyline set in the present focuses on the immediate aftermath of a tornado that hit their small Kentucky town, where Jesse and Sam-Sam prove useful in aiding their neighbors. Along the way, Jesse narrates her experience "on the spectrum," which manifests for her as touch sensitivity ("my new clothes don't have to be perfect. Just not itchy"), an occupation with numbers, and the occasional meltdown. Vaught (Super Max and the Mystery of Thornwood's Revenge) brings training as a neuropsychologist to this sensitively told tale, and she offers a nuanced, normalizing portrayal of Jesse's autism spectrum disorder alongside her other qualities. Between the charming protagonist, the engaging mystery, and a compelling emotional arc, the result is wholly satisfying. Ages 8–12. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–6—Words that describe Jesse Broadview include: dog lover, "Messy Jesse," heroine, and "on the spectrum." Her quirkiness can lead to extreme behavior from burning tank tops that are too itchy, building a secret hideout in the forest, and throwing water bottles at bullies. Jesse's life is clearly anything but typical, but when a tornado strikes her small Kentucky town and her father is accused of stealing money from the school library, Jesse faces her own apocalypse. Jesse will pave her own path as she dabbles in a first true friendship, navigates the mystery surrounding her father, and stands her ground against a fierce toronado. Vaught invites readers into Jesse's world, which is simultaneously intriguing and jumbled. The novel bounces between the missing money mystery and the action building toward the tornado, which enhances the plot's energy, but can initially cause confusion for readers. Vaught's detailed accounts of events through Jesse's perspective builds not only an understanding, but also an experience for the reader, and provides intimate insight on her neuroatypicality. VERDICT Highly recommended for school libraries as a strong addition to help diversify realistic fiction collections to include neuroatypical characters and heroines.—Mary-Brook J. Townsend, The McGillis School, Salt Lake City Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Alternates between the detective work of middle-schooler Jesse and her new friend, Springer, after her father is accused of stealing, and post-tornado rescue efforts of Jesse and her Pomeranian, Sam-Sam.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

'Edgar-winning Vaught, a neuropsychologist, has both personal and professional experience to draw on in crafting a narrator who is admirably smart and resilient despite an 'itchy' brain and a compulsion to count things.' 'Booklist (starred review)'Deeply smart and considerate.' 'BCCB'An absorbing mystery.' 'Kirkus Reviews'A strong addition to help diversify realistic fiction collections to include neuroatypical characters and heroines.' 'School Library JournalIn this Edgar Award'winning novel by mystery superstar Susan Vaught, Jesse is on the case when money goes missing from the library and her dad is looking like the #1 suspect.I could see the big inside of my Sam-Sam. I had been training him for 252 days with mini tennis balls and pieces of bacon, just to prove to Dad and Mom and Aunt Gus and the whole world that a tiny, fluffy dog could do big things if he wanted to. I think my little dog always knew he could be a hero.I just wonder if he knew about me.When the cops show up at Jesse's house and arrest her dad, she figures out in a hurry that he's the #1 suspect in the missing library fund money case. With the help of her (first and only) friend Springer, she rounds up suspects (leading to a nasty confrontation with three notorious school bullies) and asks a lot of questions. But she can't shake the feeling that she isn't exactly cut out for being a crime-solving hero. Jesse has a neuro-processing disorder, which means that she's 'on the spectrum or whatever.' As she explains it, 'I get stuck on lots of stuff, like words and phrases and numbers and smells and pictures and song lines and what time stuff is supposed to happen.' But when a tornado strikes her small town, Jesse is given the opportunity to show what she's really made of'and help her dad.Told with the true-as-life voice Susan Vaught is known for, this mystery will have you rooting for Jesse and her trusty Pomeranian, Sam-Sam.