How To Be Brave

Holt. Jul. 2021. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250796080.
Gr 3-7–Calla North’s life is far from normal, for Calla’s mom Elizabeth is a world-renowned duck expert. Calla’s world, however, doesn’t revolve around her mom’s academic knowledge and the sparse income her mother brings in—often not enough to keep food in the cupboards and the utilities on. When Elizabeth is offered a chance to earn a substantial fee by participating in a research project that requires the team to work in South America, Calla is sent to her mother’s old boarding school run by the Good Sisters. Much to Calla’s delight, they are not your average congregation of nuns. The Good Sisters believe that every girl matters, and that one day they will change the world. So along with the obvious lessons on morality and academics, there’s training in much-needed life skills like baking—and helicopter maintenance! Amid all the new changes that Calla has to face, two stand out. One is that the school’s new headmistress has changed the rules so much that it’s moving the students and faculty toward a revolt. Another is that no one has heard from Calla’s mom, namely Calla. Told through the voice of the Good Sister June who plays a very special role in the lives of Calla and her mom, this seamlessly woven narrative features plenty of glimpses into British life and humor. The use of footnotes as a kind of sidebar conversation to the story line adds another layer of fun.
VERDICT Both the young and the young-at-heart will find delight in the traditional good vs. evil depicted in the form of the most villainous of villains and a host of spunky female characters who are persistent enough to save the day.

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