Everyone should read Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird; at least that’s what eighth-graders Lucy and her friends Michael and Elena think. In fact, they believe so strongly in this summer reading-list classic that they decide to put their clever and surreptitious marketing skills to work to get everyone talking about—and searching for—the book. The trio begins creatively “hiding” copies of the book in stores and libraries; they’re not doing anything illegal, just generating some buzz.
But thanks to the power of the Internet and social media, the plan that starts in their small Connecticut hometown spreads nationwide, creating a dearth of the beloved novel and making everyone desperate to find one. Mission accomplished, right? Conspiracy theories abound over who is plotting this literary revolution, why they are doing it and when it will end.
Paul Acampora has crafted a savvy, witty and funny novel about the power of friendships, the lure of a good book and the influence of social media. Throw in lively characters like Fat Bob Nowak and one of the funniest graveside scenes ever written (R.I.P. Fat Bob), plus budding puppy love and a bookstore owner named Dobby, and you’ve got a can’t-miss middle-grade winner.
Smart literary references, funny interludes and spot-on tween dialogue are keenly interwoven, and readers will keep reading to see where this farce finally ends. Just as this trio wants people to read Mockingbird, clearly Acampora hopes his own readers will be inspired to pick it up, too. This is one of the best new middle-grade titles.
Sharon Verbeten is a freelance writer and children’s librarian in De Pere, Wisconsin.