Pixie Pushes On

Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Jan. 2020. 240p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525515166.
Gr 4-6–In 1945, following the death of her mother, fifth grader Prudence (Pixie) Davidson has moved from Kentucky with her father and older sister Charlotte to her grandparents’ Indiana farm. Struggling with her grief, adjusting to farm life, and getting off on the wrong foot in a new school, she is now consumed with worry as Charlotte, whom she idolizes, is hospitalized with polio for which Pixie mistakenly feels responsible. Her wise, understanding grandfather; her no-nonsense but nurturing grandmother; a kind teacher; and classmate Ricky are steadying forces. Charlotte’s letters and their father’s cautious prediction of her recovery bolster Pixie’s spirits and give her hope. But her experience caring for a lamb helps her accept the reality of loss and healing. Pixie’s wry first-person voice aptly conveys her inner turmoil and the flavor and hardship of rural life during World War II, along with a healthy dose of humor. Some overly familiar themes, predictable but well-drawn characters, and occasionally cloying narration are offset by a powerful message of friendship, familial love, faith, and perseverance. Details of life on a farm during the war and the scourge of the polio epidemic are skillfully incorporated into the story.
VERDICT This absorbing read features an appealing heroine and is a good choice for collections where titles about nostalgia and strong family values are in demand.

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