Review by Booklist Review
Kicking off this literary whodunit is a piercing scream, which can be traced to 10-year-old Pearl upon her discovery that the library's beloved Edna St. Vincent Millay statue is missing its head. This act of vandalism serves as the catalyst for a number of events that subsequently transpire in Pearl's New York City neighborhood. The local library, of which her mother is the head librarian, is struggling and in very real danger of being converted into apartments. Pearl refuses to let this happen and endeavors to track down the vandal and drum up community support for the library. Young incorporates a number of realistic themes into her story, ranging from the challenges of making friends and accepting change to gentrification and homelessness. However there is also a fantasy element that not every reader will buy: literate raccoons. Those willing to suspend their disbelief will be charmed by the reading raccoons and the many sidebars that one contributes to the book itself. Issue- rather than plot-driven, this slower-paced mystery is for the thoughtful and bookish.--Julia Smith Copyright 2020 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Born in the Lancaster Avenue branch of the New York City Public Library to a circulation librarian, 10-year-old Pearl is well-known to its staff, and loves books, her neighborhood, and the library's garden statue of Edna St. Vincent Millay. When the statue's head disappears, Pearl's scream brings the entire neighborhood running. The head's theft makes the paper and draws developers to the underresourced library, which needs repairs that the city refuses to finance. As the library loses importance as a "neighborhood hub," Pearl and her mother aim to save it. Neighbors and library regulars rally to help, as does Francine, the neighborhood new girl who slowly shows Pearl the power of friendship. But it's the raccoons living in the basement, who publish a newspaper and ally with Pearl, who help her in her quest. Part mystery, part coming-of-age journey, Young's (Hundred Percent) story interweaves realistically flawed, fully formed characters with real-world issues (declining library attendance and homelessness) and fantastical elements. Sidebars ("A Sidebar About Legends") penned by a mysterious author and signature illustrations by Bagley offer charming details. Ages 10--14. Author's agent: Faye Bender, the Book Group. Illustrator's agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. (Jan.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 5 Up--Pearl's scream out the window of the Lancaster Avenue Public Library brings everyone running. The head of the courtyard statue of a favorite local poet is missing. Thus begins the search for Edna St. Vincent Millay's head and the battle to keep Pearl's beloved library branch open. The city wants to sell the building to real estate developers, but Pearl is not about to let that happen. Her mother is the circulation librarian; Pearl has grown up among the stacks. If it closes, what will happen to them--or to her friends who have practically raised her, or the reading raccoons, actual raccoons who read and write and live in the basement? Pearl learns new talents and makes new friends as she fights to make her library branch important to the rest of her community. Young has crafted a story about a library that quickly needs to become the hub it once was in order to survive. She keeps the story light with talking, or rather reading and writing, raccoons, but it still touches on complex issues of family dynamics, homelessness, and community. The text can be dense at times, and the character's solution a bit twisty, but the story is solidly entertaining. VERDICT Upper elementary readers who like magical realism will enjoy this novel, as will younger readers at high reading levels. A strong addition to the fiction section.--Julie Overpeck, Gardner Park Elementary School, Gastonia, NC
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Review by Horn Book Review
Pearl was born at the Lancaster Avenue branch of the (fictional) New York City Library, and as the circulation librarians daughter, she has felt at home there for more than a decade. But the library building is neglected and in disrepair, and developers want to repurpose it for housing. When Pearl discovers the librarys beloved statue of Edna St. Vincent Millay is missing its head, she leads a search for it while organizing neighborhood enthusiasm for both Vincent and the library. In a surprise fantastical twist, she discovers that the raccoons living in the librarys basement are book lovers, skilled journalists, and some of her most valuable allies in the fight to save her home. The richly developed cast of characterslibrary manager Bruce, Pearls classmate Francine, journalist Jonathan Yoikssupports a solid and fast-moving plot with an entertaining narrative reveal. Bagleys illustrations bring Pearls world to life, and the explanatory sidebars that appear throughout the book (A Sidebar About Exclamation Points; A Sidebar About Homelessness) are informative as well as plot-shaping. Pearls growth over the course of the story is satisfying, and the book effectively delivers its multiple messages without overwhelming readers. Sarah Rettger January/February 2020 p.99(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
This is the way Pearl's world ends: not with a bang but with a scream.Pearl Moran was born in the Lancaster Avenue branch library and considers it more her home than the apartment she shares with her mother, the circulation librarian. When the head of the library's beloved statue of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay is found to be missing, Pearl's scream brings the entire neighborhood running. Thus ensues an enchanting plunge into the underbelly of a failing library and a city brimful of secrets. With the help of friends old, uncertainly developing, and new, Pearl must spin story after compelling story in hopes of saving what she loves most. Indeed, that loveof libraries, of books, and most of all of storiessuffuses the entire narrative. Literary references are peppered throughout (clarified with somewhat superfluous footnotes) in addition to a variety of tangential sidebars (the identity of whose writer becomes delightfully clear later on). Pearl is an odd but genuine narrator, possessed of a complex and emotional inner voice warring with a stridently stubborn outer one. An array of endearing supporting characters, coupled with a plot both grounded in stressful reality and uplifted by urban fantasy, lend the story its charm. Both the neighborhood and the library staff are robustly diverse. Pearl herself is biracial; her "long-gone father" was black and her mother is white. Bagley's spot illustrations both reinforce this and add gentle humor.The magic of reading is given a refreshingly real twist. (reading list) (Fantasy. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.