160p. S. & S./Beach Lane. May 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534412774.
Gr 2–5—A keen observer of life with a passion for old, antique books, Flora Smallwood is increasingly worried about fourth grade. With her parents newly separated and the recent death of a beloved dog, this sensitive introvert takes small, careful steps to understanding herself and truly experiencing her own life. Flora's journey begins with a new friendship and a found pet, both of which help refine her understanding and tolerance of change and trust in others. Her trips to the used book store and time spent with friends keep Flora reaching outside her comfort zone. As she slowly opens up to new experiences and others, Flora begins to understand that sometimes the future is not something to fear, but rather something to look forward to. Acclaimed author Rylant quietly draws readers into the quaint Rosetown through her expertly crafted characterization. The contemplative, examining eyes of Flora create an empathic lens for readers as they experience the community through her eyes. Rylant's prose works to establish a slightly nostalgic feel, complemented by a leisurely paced plot, mimicking Flora's perspective. While the writing style and plot work well together, younger readers more accustomed to fast-paced, action-oriented tales may lose interest. Likewise, Flora's gradual transition will have readers craving and anticipating a major plot twist that never comes.
VERDICT A beautifully crafted piece of writing that would be best appreciated by readers who value character over plot. An additional purchase for collections in need of gentle realism.

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