Review Detail

Middle Grade Fiction 87
Let's all do arts and crafts!
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Jubilee is used to moving from place to place with her Nan, and has a set of rules and procedures to help her transition. She takes a lot of comfort from watching Arletta Paisley's crafting show, and emulates her with all sorts of projects. Her father, Nana's son, passed away when Jubilee was four, and her mother has been working in the music industry with just enough success to keep her going. She's currently touring with a country artist and her longtime friend and manager, Wynn. When her grandmother once again seems itchy to move, Jubilee schemes to get her to pick Hope Springs, Texas, which is Arletts Paisley's hometown. Nana, who works in nursing homes and never has trouble finding a job, agrees, and soon the two are moving into an all pink rental house and getting to know their small town. The mayor's daughter, Abby, wants to make friends, and while it's against Jubilee's policy to make attachments, she can't help but be drawn in to Abby's enthusiasm for fishing (even if she would rather not!), her loan of a bike, and her help in getting to know the town. Of course, Jubilee wants to work some magic on the house decor, which takes her and Nana to the Fabric Barn, a disheveled treasure trove run by Holly. Holly is not a fan of Arletta or the store that sponsors her, SmartMart. SmartMart is supposed to open a branch in Hope Springs, which would put a lot of local concerns, including Holly's, out of business. Jubilee manages to wrangle herself a job with Holly, which is helpful when Nana falls while trying to take down pink drapes and cracks a rib and puts a hairline fracture in her ankle. She's not able to report for work, but Abby's mother uses her mayoral power to get casseroles delivered to the family and some help from Miss Esther, the former middle school librarian. Jubilee doesn't want to tell her mother, but when she is forced to, her mother visits. She is, of course, too busy to stay and help, but she leaves Wynn until Nana is back up and running. Jubilee introduces Abby to Arletta's show, but the two soon realize that something must be done to try to keep SmartMart from coming to town. How will Jubilee reconcile the comfort that Arletta has brought to her life with the damage that might be done to her new home? And how will she convince Nana that staying put isn't so bad?
Good Points
This would definitely have been a book that I tried to hunt down and buy when I was in middle school. The involved grandmother, crafting, and go-getter attitude that Jubilee has would have ticked all the boxes in books I wanted to read! Middle school readers will also enjoy Jubilee's pragmatic adaptation to moving, her reluctance to make friends, and the kid power shown by Jubilee, Abby, and their friend Colton whose family owns the local hardware store when they try to stop SmartMart. There is also some emotion when Jubilee is dealing with the separation from her mother and the difficulty of frequent moves. What a great, upbeat story about Kids Doing Things and Changing the World, all while wearing freshly pressed t shirts and homemade skirts!

Well, I have to bring my own expertise in sewing out here and be picky, right? Holly puts together a quilt for a show in a WEEK? I mean, possible, but not probable. Denim pieces in a Dresden Plate quilt? Also, Jubilee's mother doesn't understand her daughter's love for making her own clothes, but I don't think ANYONE makes clothes today because it is cheaper. Forty years ago, that might have been the case, but it's a lot MORE expensive to make clothes now. Seriously, I appreciated a book that included crafting. There are not too many out there. These are quibbles.

This makes me want to go back and reread Shihab Nye's 2005 Going, Going! Even the cover of this one shows a refreshing, happy main character. I'll be glad to get this into students' hands, and will try to match it up with some of my craft books that don't circulate all that well.
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