Twelve-year-old Reena is shocked when her parents decide to move the family to a small coastal town in Maine. She and her little brother, Luke, are excited, if a little nervous, to explore their new home. But their parents have another surprise in store when they volunteer the kids to work for Mrs. Falala, a prickly old woman who lives with a motley assortment of animals.
Reena and Luke soon discover that Mrs. Falala needs help from each of them. Luke teaches Mrs. Falala to draw, and Reena takes on the task of readying Zora, a very stubborn cow, for the fair. Reena comes into her own in the barn, building confidence as she gradually gains Zora’s trust.
Reena is a witty but gentle narrator, well attuned to the feelings and insecurities of others, even adults. The relative simplicity of the storyline, coupled with Reena’s mature observations, translate well to the book’s structure, a series of poems. Some poems are strictly narrative, while others are more abstract, providing a good balance of familiarity and challenge for readers. Award-winning author Sharon Creech delivers another charming and satisfying novel-in-verse, perfect for independent young readers.