Twelve-year-old Joplin lives with her divorced mom and her mom’s friend, Jen, in a basement apartment in New York. She’s bullied at school, and even worse, her best friend has dumped her. The death of Joplin’s famous grandfather—and the spreading of some unsavory publicity about him—gives her peers a golden opportunity to tease her, leaving her devastated and lonely.
In her grandfather’s room, Joplin discovers a metal tin crammed with pieces of an old ceramic platter. The plate, depicting a young girl standing by a pond and a windmill, is repaired and hung in her room. Joplin wishes the girl would be her friend, and the next day, the girl vanishes from the platter and waits for Joplin in the garden, where she introduces herself as Sophie. Around the same time, Joplin befriends Barrett, a boy from school. Suddenly Joplin has two friends, and together they try to return Sophie to being a flesh-and-blood girl in Holland. Their quest takes a sinister turn when they discover they are being stalked by a man who knows Sophie’s secret.
Joplin’s struggle to find her place after her grandfather’s death, both at home and at school, will ring true to readers. The magical platter offers an engaging vehicle to help Joplin sort fact from fantasy, reality from longing, and to learn the true meaning of friendship.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.