Andy Russell, an elementary school-age boy, has lost a number of his pet gerbils somewhere in his basement. Andy shares the secret with his father, since he knows both his mother and his sister Rachel would be very upset should they know the animals are loose. He must deal with the consequences of keeping his secret from his mother as well as being caught not paying attention at school, thinking instead about how to find the gerbils.
Andy has a big heart for his friends, Tamika and Bruce. When he finds out that Tamika will be sent to a new foster family, he asks his parents if she can stay with his family. He knows how to use his Dad’s softspot to get what he wants. Towards the end of the story, he eavesdrops on his parents’ conversation to find out about their decision regarding Tamika, perhaps not the best strategy to present to young readers.
In one surprising turn of events, Andy’s mother suddenly becomes sick… with morning sickness. Both Andy and Rachel look upon a new sibling positively. Ironically, Rachel acts more like a bully towards Andy than a friend.
For these reasons, this story would be better for older elementary-age children. Younger children, who might not yet be able to process the ideas that Andy presents in his attempt to resolve his “troubles”, may prefer Adler’s Young Cam Jansen Mysteries.
Emily Castilla is an avid reader and mother of three. She has been informally reviewing children’s books for the past six years.