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Friday, May 6, 2016

Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe, written by Tricia Springstubb and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $20.00 ages 8 and up

"Cody had a friendly brain. When an idea knocked, her brain said, Come in, idea. Make yourself right at home. And what do you know? Knock, knock. Here came one now. First she found a clean slide. Then she worked up a great, gobby mouthful of spit. If you are thinking disgusting, you are right. But if you are thinking fun, you are also right. How can that be? In this life, many things can stump the mind."

I do hope you have met Cody in her previous story, Cody and the Fountain of Happiness (2015). If not, see if you can borrow it from your local library. Cody is a character worth knowing, just as Spencer Pickett is.

As we meet up with her again, Cody is deliciously impatient for Spencer's return to the neighborhood. His family is coming back to town to live with his grandma, GG. Patience is not one of Cody's virtues, although she does have many others. So, when Spencer returns, and things are not quite as Cody had hoped they would be, she has some new lessons to learn.

The biggest mystery for the two of them concerns the duplex unit that is right beside GG's. It looks empty. The only thing that would make someone think it is inhabited is the name on the mailbox - MEEN. Mr. Meen shows his face when Cody is stung by a yellow jacket and he comes to her rescue. It turns out he is an exterminator - which is good! He is the father of two girls - which is dreadfully bad. They stay with him sometimes.

Those MEEN girls are a perfect match for their last name. They are not friendly in any way. In fact, Molly threatens Cody and Spencer and refuses to allow them to play in their shared backyard. For Cody, it goes from bad to worse. First those rotten neighbor girls; then, she tries to help Spencer who is new to her school. She warns him about his teacher, the Spindle, and offers to introduce them to make for a smoother transition. No need! Spencer and his teacher have much in common, and like spending time together. Cody's friend Pearl likes Spencer and shares his love of music, as well.

Where does this leave Cody? Not to fear! Cody has a kind heart, is a loyal friend, and understands that our differences make the world go round.

"Are those the kids who were mean to you?"
Wyatt whispered, and Cody nodded. "They don't
look so bad," he said. "Maybe you should let bygones
be bygones."
Cody thought this over. Wasn't that the same
thing as forgetting? The very thing people were
always scolding her for? Was there such a thing as good
forgetting? Whew. In this life, there is always something
new to think about."

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