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The Bell Bandit (Lemonade War)


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Jacqueline Davies is the talented, award-winning writer of several novels and picture books. She lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with her family.Visit her website at www.jacquelinedavies.com. .


Gr 3-5-Evan and Jessie, fourth grade siblings who first appeared in The Lemonade War (2007) and The Lemonade Crime (2011), visit their Grandma to ring in the New Year in the third book (2012, all Houghton Mifflin) in Jacqueline Davies's series. They discover everything is new at Grandma's house in a most unsettling way. Not only has she nearly burned down her house by leaving the tea kettle unattended, she sporadically doesn't recognize her grandchildren and seems confused. To top it off, Grandma's 1884 bell is missing from the hilltop, and without it, the traditional bell ringing at midnight on New Year's Eve will be impossible. The puzzle is eventually solved by Jessie, Evan, and an odd neighbor boy, Maxwell, whose catch phrases, "I'm smart!" and "You don't see that every day," are annoying. Labels are never used to describe either Grandma's behavior as possibly Alzheimer's symptoms, or Maxwell's maddening logic and repetitive movements as perhaps a form of autism. Fans of the series already know that Jessie, a math genius, "thinks differently" and has those same tendencies. The jigsaw puzzles that Grandma, Jessie, and Maxwell love to complete are apt metaphors for the story. Grandma explains, "I can't quite put it all together," while Jesse and Maxwell's complicated brain processes click the pieces effortlessly into place. Tension in this novel comes from the conflict between expected traditions and inevitable change. Stina Nielsen captures the characters' dialogue fairly well, but children might find the unusual behaviors off-putting.-Lonna Pierce, MacArthur Elementary School, Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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