"My dad says I have what he calls a good life," writes Charlene, a.k.a. Charlie, in a letter to a friend. Not too many people would disagree with her on that. When she's not reading under the willow trees and drinking lemonade all day, she's fishing with her friends, investigating the mysterious disappearance of an entire family, or making a mule fly as a way of comforting an elderly friend in the hospital! When her best friends, Billy and Lump, go off to summer camp, Charlie manages to keep up a hilarious and informative correspondence with the two, even as she develops a new friendship with a girl who loves to garden. But the biggest surprise of all is when Charlie and her nemesis--her brother Sid--begin to get along when a neighbor needs their help.
Sequel to Maniac Monkeys on Magnolia Street, this collection of linked stories about the summertime adventures of a lively but easy-going trio is sheer delight for the independent chapter book reader. Two-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, author Angela Johnson is a master of understated humor, allowing her characters to ramble along, getting themselves into wacky predicaments, and never understanding why they crack up or exasperate the adults around them. Magnolia Street is full of warm, loving, characters--would that every kid could grow up here! (Ages 9 to 12)--Emilie Coulter [via]