We all know adults who are, well, less than mature. We also know kids who sometimes exceed those adults in wisdom. Such is the case in Barbara O’Connor’s new chapter book, Wonderland.
Mavis is a head-strong girl whose mother is chronically discontent, moving them frequently to the next town and the next job that she thinks will finally bring her happiness. Meanwhile, brave Mavis has only one focused desire: to have and be a best friend.
Rose is the introverted daughter in a wealthy family. She has a marginally involved father and an overbearing mother who constantly complains about trivial matters and people who don’t live up to her standards. Chief among her mother’s disappointments is Rose, who silently absorbs her mother’s cutting remarks and retreats when she can stand no more. Rose’s saving grace is Mr. Duffy, the aging gatekeeper of the housing development in which she lives. Together, they laugh, play and genuinely care for one another, yet lately, he has changed. Since the death of his cherished dog, the luster has gone out of life for Mr. Duffy.
Enter a third character, Henry, a retired greyhound whose future is not bright at Wonderland Race Track. He escapes and hides out, fearfully, in the woods behind Magnolia Estates, where Rose lives.
The tale is told in alternating chapters, narrated by Rose, Mavis or Henry.
When Mavis’ mom takes a job as housekeeper for Rose’s family, Mavis instantly decides that Rose will be her best friend. The friendship is rocky at times. The girls must endure the catty behavior of Rose’s mom, the endless discontent of Mavis’ mom in her new job, Amanda, the snobbish neighbor girl all while devising a plan to capture Henry as a new canine companion that they hope will relight the spark in Mr. Duffy.
Not everything turns out as they may have hoped. Still, in the process, friendships, human and canine, blossom and people grow. Mavis develops self-discipline; Rose self-assurance and both learn that friendship can foster positive change that spills over to others in your life. A fun read about determination, evolution and the power of friendship.
Written by Barbara O’Connor
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