Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe — Review

Thought for the Day:

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”
~ Mark Twain ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Legends of Windemere has an interesting post HERE by Charles Yallowitz that deals with being a single father. We have them in stories we are writing, so there are things in this post that can help you make your story more realistic.

Having trouble coming up with the perfect name for your character? Bryn Donovan has a great post HERE that will help with that problem.

Melissa Donovan has a really good post HERE to help you get rid of redundancies in your writing. Yes, you have them.

Last week, Kelly Milner Halls was kind enough to offer an extra copy of her book Cryptid Creatures to one of you since I wasn’t willing to let my copy go. This week, Natalie Aguirre is our winner. Congratulations, Natalie! I will get your book out soon. You can find Natalie at Literary Rambles, a TERRIFIC blog I have mentioned here before. Natalie has wonderful interviews, great reviews, super giveaways, and more. Check it out by clicking on the name of the blog. No giveaway this week, but please keep reading to hear about a wonderful book.

Smack DabI actually had time this week to read a book that has been on my TBR pile for far too long. Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl was published last year, but just came out in paperback a couple months ago, so now is a good time to buy it. Let me tell you a little about it.

Cricket is living with her Aunt Belinda, who, it turns out, isn’t really a relative at all, but a friend of the family. But Aunt Belinda took Cricket in after her father died suddenly and her mother left. Her mother did things like that. But Cricket was sure her mother would be back and even knew the place and time — at her grandmother’s grave in less than two weeks. Her mother had promised and there were certain kinds of promises she always kept. Cricket could count on that, even if she couldn’t count on much else. When Aunt Belinda left the store without Cricket, she took it as a sign that this was the time to leave to go find her mother. Cricket and her father had built an excellent treehouse in the woods where her father’s home town had been. The company that had owned the town at taken all the buildings down when the mill closed, but they had left the cemetery.  Cricket was sure she could stay at the treehouse until her mother came. Her father had taught her how to live in the woods. And she had a mystery to solve. Her mother had often told the story of a beautiful room painted with scenes that seemed to have scarlet tanager birds that came to life. Cricket was sure once she found that room and could take her mother there, that her mother would be well and not go off doing crazy things.

After Aunt Belinda left Cricket behind at the store, she finds herself alone after the store has closed for the day. She takes what she thinks she will need to survive until her mother comes, leaves all the money she has and an IOU for the rest, and walks and walks and walks miles into the woods until she find the treehouse. She also finds a cricket, sure to bring her luck, which she names Charlene. They settle into the treehouse for the night. During the day, Cricket will search for the painted room.  But Cricket hasn’t counted on a terrible winter storm or raiding raccoons who steal her food or a little cottonmouth snake that bites her or finding the only person who lives nearby. Can the curious Miss V. help Cricket solve the mystery of the painted room?

Jo Watson Hackl

Author Jo Hackl has written a perfect novel for middle graders (and others lucky enough to find it). She takes her readers on a journey to a small town in the South filled with interesting, quirky, memorable characters each of whom has his or her own story. The writing is beautiful and the story compelling and unputdownable. Readers will fall in love with Cricket and cheer for her every difficult step of the way. This is a real winner.

No giveaway this week. I donated my hardbound copy to the school library. But check back next week. I might well have a giveaway then. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

16 thoughts on “Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe — Review”

  1. Glad you are featuring Jo’s book. We were in a critique group together for awhile and I saw a few part of Smack Dab before publication. No need to enter my name. I have an autographed copy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I got quite a few tidbits from each of your writing links. Always helpful—so thanks!
    This book is just the type of realistic fiction I enjoy. Cricket is a well crafted character perfect for this kind of story. I’ll be on the lookout for my own copy. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Searching for the painted room sounds like a great mystery. You gave us just enough to want to find out what happens to Cricket. So sad, she doesn’t have many people who she can depend upon in her life. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First of all, I love the Mark Twain quote at the top of your post — a great reminder to authors! Second, I really like the colorful cover on this book. Third, thank you for your thoughtful review of this book. It sounds like a good read. Glad you shared it for MMGM this week. :0}

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t believe I haven’t read Smack Dab yet! Thanks for sharing your review – definitely going to get my hands on a copy because it’s just the sort of book I love to read for myself (what? it’s a kid’s book? no matter…)

    Liked by 1 person

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