This one is for fans of superheroes and puzzle mysteries.
by Reese Eschmann.
Illustrated by Gretel Lusky
Read from a library copy.
Chicago girl Etta lives with Quiet Days, where her ears are filled with a river of allergies and she can’t hear, and Loud Days, where she can. But things have been getting worse, so that her Quiet Days are now filled with ringing ears and sometimes vertigo instead of the peace she’s been used to. To distract herself from all of this, she spends her time drawing comics about Invincible Girl, who can easily win battles against all comers. (One of these very fun stories in full comic book format opens the book, though Invincible Girl’s adventures are shown in script form afterwards.) This has been getting harder since strange purple clouds covered the sun two weeks ago and haven’t left. It’s been making Etta’s symptoms much worse, and all the adults around her are acting depressed and overprotective.
The strangeness escalates as Etta meets a new boy on the bus, one who’s smuggling his goldendoodle Louisa May Alcott to school. Well, he’s trying – he gets kicked off the bus, and he and Etta see fireworks with their shared initial, E. As they explore, they find a magical-looking train puffing clouds of purple smoke. The doors open for them – and the little dog runs in. But while the boy wants to follow, Etta can’t work up the courage. It’s after this event that Etta learns that the boy’s name is Eleazar, and that Louisa May Alcott is his tie to his abuela in Venezuela, which he just recently left and desperately misses.
Now Etta really must confront her fears to help Eleazar find Louisa May. There are lots of challenges – crazy magical train for one, of course, but also the risk of her vertigo, and communication difficulties between Etta’s unreliable hearing and Eleazar’s discomfort with English. And although both of these are very serious issues, the adventures on the train fall more into the superhero-like fun action, making this a very entertaining read while dealing with themes of the importance of accepting the full array of one’s emotions. This is one I think my daughter would really enjoy, and the in-book comic panels also remind me of Kate Hannigan’s League of Secret Heroes books.