by Dianna Dorisi Winget
Harcourt Children’s Books
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Inside Jacket: Whether she likes it or not, ten-year-old Piper Lee DeLuna is about to get a new family. Four years ago after the plane Piper’s daddy was flying disappeared, her mama is getting married again. The way Piper sees it, Mama’s being flat-out disloyal. Besides, who needs a stepdad—or a bratty stepsister, for that matter—when she and Mama are doing just fine on their own? But when Piper Lee hatches a plan to get the wedding called off, everything spirals out of control. And by the time Piper realizes just how much damage she’s done, it could be too late to fix things.
First 2 Sentences: “Piper Lee, honey, what do you think of this one?” Mama held up a frilly purple bridesmaid’s dress.
About the Story: Ten-year-old Piper Lee’s daddy disappeared while flying his single-engine Piper Cub and is presumed dead. Now, five years later, Piper Lee’s mama is engaged to Ben, who has a ten-year-old daughter named Ginger. Piper Lee and Ginger are two opposites that do not attract. Piper’s main mission is stopping her mama from marrying Ben. She still hopes her daddy will come home—since no one ever found his body. Piper has a few ideas on how to stop this wedding, but the biggest is Operation Finding Tina. Tina is Ginger’s mother—or is it ex-mother—it is so hard to know what to call a mama that walks away from their baby. Will Operation Find Tina stop the wedding or cause an unexpected reaction?
What I Thought: A Smidgen of Sky is one of those books that hook you almost from the first word. Immediately, I could hear Piper Lee’s southern voice in my ear as she tells me her story. Piper Lee is devoted to her daddy; a true daddy’s girl. In her heart, she refuses to believe he is gone, but in her head, she knows it’s true, but won’t allow herself to grieve. She is not ready for a new daddy when her real daddy just needs to find his way home.
I loved the scene where Piper Lee knows she’s not allowed to swim out to a rock island in the lake. She goes to the lake with Ben and Ginger—but without mama. Before they left for the beach, Piper had a row with her mama. She is now in a defiant mood and decides to attempt the swim. The distance turns out to be farther than Piper had envisioned. She barely made it to the rock and must now immediately return to shore. Before she can, Ben spots her and begins to swim towards Piper. Once they are back on the beach blanket, Ben sits quietly next to her. They have a tender, unexpected moment. Piper wants to ask Ben to take her to an air show but is reluctant to talk to him, begging mama to ask for her. Mama refuses. Ben knows this and brings up the airshow, as the two sat on the beach blanket recovering from the long swim to the island.
Ginger and Piper Lee may be the same age, but they are two opposites. Ginger’s ambition is to become a cheerleader. Piper Lee wants to learn to fly a plane. Ginger is a girly-girl, while Piper is a tomboy. They join forces to search for Ginger’s mother, who left shortly after Ginger was born. Problem is, each girl has a different motive for finding the elusive Tina. Ginger wants to talk to the mother that left her to her father when she was a young infant and never returned. Piper is hoping the return of Tina will mean Ginger’s family is reunited, then she and mama can return to their lives before mama meat Ben.
Miss Claudia is Piper’s confidant and friend. She lives in the apartment across from Piper Lee and is genuine southern lady. Piper Lee checks on the older woman, who in turn, keeps an eye on Piper Lee for her mama. Miss Claudia helps Piper Lee out of a huge jam, gives her wonderful advice, and delicious peach cobbler, but most importantly, she listens to Piper Lee and hears every word the young girl speaks. Piper Lee is a lucky girl. She has several people who care for her, look out for her, and listens to her. Sometimes Piper Lee forgets this blessing, but then, what kid doesn’t.
The writing is wonderfully crisp. Each character has a distinctive voice that is clear from the moment they first speak. This is Ms. Winget’s debut and I have not read any debut that is better than A Smidgen in The Sky. Kids will get not only a rollicking story; they will get a glimpse of most of their parent’s youthful days. Ms. Winget touches on several subjects, including loss and grief, blended families, Internet predators, single parenting, and hostage situations. A Smidgen of Sky is also a coming-of-age story for Ginger and Piper Lee. Book clubs would enjoy all the available topics for discuss. Most importantly, A Smidgen of Sky is the perfect book for kids looking to read a family drama that is unique, but stays grounded in this world.
Ages: 8 to 12+
© 2012 by Harcourt Children’s Books
Text: Copyright © 2012 by Dianna Winget, used with permission
Harcourt Children’s Books is an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY
- guest post – Reading with Our Older Child by Dianna Winget (kid-lit-reviews.com)