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Review of Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts

spalding_look out for the fitzgerald troutsLook Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts
by Esta Spalding; illus. by Sydney Smith
Intermediate    Little, Brown    245 pp.
5/16    978-0-316-29858-2    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-29859-9    $9.99    g

Kim, a highly capable eleven-year-old, lives with her three younger siblings (and a goldfish) in a small green car. They attend school, do errands, play board games, drive to the laundromat, and have a huge amount of fun on their Hawaii-like island. Orphans? No, they actually have four (or possibly five) parents among them, but all the adults, including a criminal stockbroker and a country singer, are complete washouts. Whatever. That isn’t a problem for this breezy, self-reliant bunch. The problem 
is that the kids are getting bigger and outgrowing their accommodation. They decide they need a proper house and put their combined ingenuity into the search. Overnighting in MARRA (read: IKEA) is fun, but temporary. Finally, Kim gets desperate and takes them all on a hair-raising car trip through the terrifying Sakahatchi Forest (with its attack iguanas) to the other side of the island, where they discover a new baby, important facts about aliens and the makeup of their family, a previously concealed first-person narrator, and their forever home. A touch of Everything on a Waffle (rev. 5/01) weirdness; a touch of The Willoughbys (rev. 3/08) sendup; and a warm, genial, wholly original voice. The use of blue type throughout is distracting, but the occasional illustrations by Smith (Sidewalk Flowers, rev. 5/15) enhance setting, character, and mood.

From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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