Review Detail

Kids Fiction 2622
Mystery with social importance.
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Early Pearl's parents Dash and Summer, are having a hard time of it-- Early was born when they were still in high school, they don't have Early's grandparents around to help, and Dash, the father, works hard at the Chicago Public library to make ends meet. The family lives in a small but cozy apartment, reading lots of books and playing together. One day, Dash is apparently hit by a truck and disappears. Summer knows that Dash isn't the kind of father to run off on his family, but all of the police and social workers look at the family's socioeconomic status and decide that he is. Things go from bad to worse without Dash's income, and after the family's apartment is trashed by masked robbers looking for something in the family's book, the Pearls end up in a homeless shelter. Early is especially upset by this (her brother Jubilation is too young to understand their plight fully) and is determined to find out what has happened to her father so the family can get back to their dream of owning their own home. She spends time at the library where her father worked, interviewing those who knew him and trying to figure out why he was selling books out of their apartment, and finds her father's former teacher, Mr. Waive, who has fallen on hard times himself but does all he can to assist Early. How are the books tied in to her father's disappearance? What does the largest diamond heist have to do with the masked robbers? Will Dash return to the family before things become even more dire?
Good Points
A strong sense of place, as well as excellent details about what it is like to be homeless, add a lot to this mystery. Lyrical language and the use of Langston Hughes' poetry will make this one teachers love to use as a class read aloud. The social aspects of Early's homelessness and her desire to help other families in her situation is a good touch as well. I found this a more intriguing read than Chasing Vermeer and the books in that series.
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