Putnam. Jul. 2022. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984813152.
Gr 4-7–Dr. Kingsbury boasts that his miraculous tonic has healed any and every discomfort or ailment it has encountered to date. However, the small town of Oakdale, OH, is slow to welcome outsiders. When Dr. Kingsbury’s traveling show arrives in 1887 to sell his cure-all tonic, the residents are apprehensive of the man and his 13-year-old assistant, Jack. They aren’t the only ones who think that something isn’t right. Jack is growing distrustful of the doctor after their other traveling companion disappears and wonders how effective the tonic actually is in curing the town’s ailments. While Jack tries to find the truth, he befriends a local girl named Cora. Their friendship echoes that of Cora’s grandmother and a boy named Silas decades earlier. The author captures all of these threads through alternating perspectives across different time lines. This story is a unique look at 19th-century medicine shows, as well as the power of hope, and can be used for classroom study on point of view. All characters are cued as white.
VERDICT Recommended secondary purchase for upper elementary and middle school collections where historical fiction circulates well.

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