Where is Early's father? He's not the kind of father who would disappear. Read more...
Where is Early's father? He's not the kind of father who would disappear. But he's gone . . . and he's left a whole lot of trouble behind.
As danger closes in, Early, her mom, and her brother have to flee their apartment. With nowhere else to go, they are forced to move into a city shelter. Once there, Early starts asking questions and looking for answers. Because her father hasn't disappeared without a trace. There are patterns and rhythms to what's happened, and Early might be the only one who can use them to track him down and make her way out of a very tough place.
With her signature, singular love of language and sense of mystery, Blue Balliett weaves a story that takes readers from the cold, snowy Chicago streets to the darkest corner of the public library, on an unforgettable hunt for deep truths and a reunited family.
- ISBN-13: 9780545299886
- ISBN-10: 0545299888
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publish Date: March 2013
- Page Count: 274
- Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-02-04
- Reviewer: Staff
The Pearl family doesn’t have much beside a shelf of books and a tight-knit bond between parents Dash and Summer and kids Early, 11, and her younger brother, Jubilation. When Dash disappears after taking a second job that involves transferring used books, the family’s apartment is violently ransacked, and the remaining Pearls must move to a homeless shelter. The third-person narrative mostly focuses on Early, but Balliett (The Danger Box) occasionally strays to an adult sensibility—to marvel at the architecture of a Chicago library branch (“an elegant conversation between stone and glass”) or to convey the hardships homeless kids face at school (“Most struggled at their grade level, having moved a bunch of times”). Early is sure that the key to unraveling her father’s disappearance lies in the one book he kept from his job, The First Book of Rhythms by Langston Hughes, and though she does some sleuthing, the mystery is largely explained in conventional exposition by adults. Still, this novel abounds in heart, shining a spotlight on the gritty truths about homelessness. Ages 8–12. Agent: Doe Coover, Doe Coover Agency. (Mar.)
Solving the puzzles when there's nowhere to go
Early Pearl is very much her father’s daughter, an 11-year-old fascinated with words and puzzles. That interest might help her unravel the mystery of her father’s disappearance and reunite their family of four.
Early’s father, Dash, worked in the Chicago Public Library. Hoping to provide a better home for his family, he began working after hours, cataloguing books for resale. It all seemed innocent, but things aren’t always what they seem. After Dash vanishes from a wintry Chicago steet, people break into the family’s apartment, stealing everything they have left: every book, every dollar, every feeling of safety. With no place to go, mom Summer takes Early and her brother Jubie to a shelter.
Living in a shelter is scary at first; there’s no privacy and there are lines for everything from brushing your teeth to using the telephone. Jubie gets sick, Early has to go to a new school where she is singled out as a shelter kid, and her father is still missing. Things are looking bleak until Early sets her mind to figuring out what happened to Dash by deciphering the clues in his notebook.
Using text from Langston Hughes’ The Book of Rhythms, best-selling author Blue Balliett orchestrates a captivating mystery. Woven into the story are bits of history and philosophy, mathematical puzzles and most importantly, compassion for others.
Dash taught his family to hold fast to dreams; Balliett shows readers that shelters are full of people who need a dream to hold fast to, just like the rest of us.