- The Summer We Found the Baby by Amy Hest
Hest, Amy The Summer We Found the Baby. Candlewick, 2020 [192p] Trade ed. ISBN 9780763660079 $16.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781536211900 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 3-6
Eleven-year-old Julie is excited about the dedication of her local children's library until an even more exciting thing happens: she finds an abandoned baby in a basket [End Page 477] on the library's front steps. Accompanied by her little sister, Martha, she bolts with the baby, and she's spied by her friend—okay, former friend—Bruno, who follows to keep an eye on the alarming situation. As this event unfolds in the current timeline, all three kids flash back to events leading up to this moment: Bruno thinks about his older brother's enlistment in the military to fight in World War II, and Julie and Martha think about the loss of their mother and Julie her determination to make things happen. The result is a gently told, slightly mysterious historical narrative that gradually lays down clues about who the baby is and what Julie's doing with her. Chapters are short, sometimes under a page, with the narrator clearly identified in the heading by both name and associated symbol (Julie is a bicycle, Martha an ice cream sundae, and Bruno a pair of binoculars), a format that will reassure nervous readers and make for an easy readaloud. Some mysteries may not be completely solved by the end (was the woman the girls met actually Eleanor Roosevelt?), but the piecing together of the strands and the resolution for the baby will satisfy readers looking for an offbeat read that both challenges and reassures.