Hello from Renn Lake

Random/Wendy Lamb Bks. May 2020. 256p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781984896322.
Gr 4-8–Two very different voices tell the story of Renn Lake. The first is the lake itself, discussing its origins and hinting at some of the current stories. The second is a girl named Annalise. Annalise is 12 and was found as an infant abandoned in a bassinet by the lake. Her adoptive parents own and operate a small resort on the shores of Lake Renn. Annalise feels that she can communicate with the lake, and the lake feels it is connected to Annalise. There is a wide cast of characters, including Annalise’s loving and supportive parents; a best friend who is learning about Jewish heritage and babysitting two rambunctious little boys for the summer; a new boy struggling with a break-up with his boyfriend; and a dramatic little sister. There’s also a big problem; there is an algae bloom in the lake that is toxic to humans (so no swimming or boating) and potentially fatal to the lake’s ecosystem. The story also addresses the financial hardship on the community at large caused by the lack of tourists. Annalise is the one most concerned about the lake because it has stopped communicating with her. Annalise and her friends devise a problem-solving strategy that is inexpensive but effective, surprising the local authorities who have suggested the algae problem will just have to resolve itself. This is a story that tries to tackle a lot of different issues. Kids who have experience with lakes and other water environments are more likely to enjoy this story, as are kids who have an interest in ecology and ecological problem-solving.
VERDICT This is a pleasant story touching on a variety of social issues, including adoption, gender identity, religious identity, families, and water ecology. A solid addition to middle grade collections.

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