- Six Feet Below Zero by Ena Jones
Trade ed. ISBN 9780823446223 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9780823449002 $11.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 4–6
A car accident several years ago orphaned twelve-year-old Rosie Marigold Spreen and her younger brother, Baker, leaving them in the care of their lovably eccentric Great-Grammy. Now Great-Grammy has died as well, providing the sibs with specific instructions that start with a batty request: Rosie and Baker must store her corpse in the deep freezer and pretend she is still alive until their new guardian, Aunt Tilly, arrives—but nobody knows when that might be. The ruse is to prevent Great-Grammy’s daughter, the ethically bankrupt high-powered attorney whom the siblings dub Grim Hesper, from selling the house and shipping the kids off to a foreign boarding school. Jones delivers a surprisingly sweet story despite the darkly comedic setup, and readers will relish the suspense as they anticipate the inevitable discovery of the frozen body. Hesper, the family’s very own Cruella de Vil, is an effective villain, helping to move the story along with her manipulative schemes. Underlying the wacky comedy are more serious messages about different ways of coping with loss and using humor to sort through tough emotions. The ending wraps up a bit too neatly, but kids won’t mind; they will still enjoy the solid storytelling and the pluckily scheming orphans.