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Friday, October 7, 2011

Mo Wren, Lost and Found, written by Tricia Springstubb. Harper, 2011. $17.99 ages 8 and up

"Some kindly giant hand
had found the sun's plug
and connected it. If you
closed your eyes and tilted
you face, the backs of your
eyelids prickled with color,
and warmth brushed your
brow and cheeks."

If you read the first lively and emotional novel about Mo Wren and her family (What Happened on Fox Street), you know they are deserving of your attention for a second time. Mo is a bit older now, and she is smarting from her father's decision to move away from Fox Street to East 213th Street.

His dream of opening a sports bar is the impetus for the move. Mo does not want to go. She loves Fox Street and all the people there. They matter in her life. Mo isn't sure about her new school. Her father is proving to himself and to Mo that he doesn't have what it takes to get the bar up and running. The renovations are time-consuming, considerable and he is ill-equipped to handle them. The money from the old house won't last forever. On the other hand, Dottie, her little sister, is oblivious to the turmoil and adjusts with little concern, making new friends, finding a pet and loving her new school. Dottie is a delight, older but still the same...exuberant, inquisitive and friendly.

It is comforting to meet old friends (characters from the first book) again; but, there are new ones to consider and they are equally as supportive to Mo as the old ones were. She meets Shawn at school. He is intelligent, a spouter of weird and wonderful information and funny. Carmella is the wise and thoughtful owner of the neighborhood laundromat, appropriately called the 'Soap Opera' for all that happens to the people who frequent it.

The family problems are real, the grief over their mother's death remains and there are lonely times. As you would expect from someone as strong and resilient as Mo is, things begin to change for the better. When a freak winter storm threatens their livelihood before the Wrens have had a chance to prove themselves, loyalty and friendship prevail:

"Trying not to think, Mo started for the stairs, but halfway down, her brain got the best of her. She stopped, resting a hand on the wall crazy with cracks. What did she think she was doing? Just because Dottie didn't question that they'd open. Just because their father worked harder at this that at anything else in his whole life. Just because the rest of her family was so brave, so hopeful, did that mean that she..."

I love the honesty, the admirable people, the imaginative language for the telling and the Wrens. They are a special family, surrounded by all who love them.

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