The Tale of Angelino Brown

illus. by Alex T. Smith. 272p. Candlewick. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763695637.
Gr 4–6—Bert and Betty Brown are tired of their humdrum lives; Bert drives a bus, Betty cooks for schoolchildren, and the couple is still grieving the loss of their young son. But all this changes when Bert discovers a tiny, innocent boy-angel in his shirt pocket and takes him home. The angel, whom they name Angelino, creates joy and chaos in a struggling school and is angel-napped by a young man named Kevin trying to prove himself a villain. Kevin's attempts at dastardly deeds and the ensuing rescue mission provide a handy plot structure, while queries about the angel's existence gently raise larger theological questions. This charming story weaves slapstick humor and fart jokes with passages of surprising beauty and depth, hinting at darker troubles without sacrificing child-appropriate levity. The ensemble of plucky schoolchildren and bumbling adults is somewhat forgettable, but the book's evocative tone resonates more than the story line would indicate.
VERDICT A quirky addition to middle grade shelves.

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