Shreve, Susan. The Search for Baby Ruby.
May 26th 2015 by Arthur A. Levine Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Jess is staying in a hotel with her extremely dysfunctional family for her sister Whee's wedding. Her parents are divorced and at odds, her sister Teddy shoplifts so much that she's had to live in a home for troubled girls, and her brother Danny is a disorganized stay at home father to Ruby. When the babysitter for the rehearsal dinner falls through, Ruby is commanded to babysit. She's not happy about it, but she doesn't have a choice. While watching Ruby, she stays in the bathroom longer than she should, trying on Whee's wedding dress and makeup. When she comes out, the three month old is gone. Instead of immediately alerting authorities, she texts Teddy, and the two of them decide that they will start investigating on their own. Jess, who has an overly keen sense of smell, thinks that a woman she found crouched in a linen closet is probably the culprit, but when she goes in search of her, she gets dragged into a car and kidnapped herself. Eventually, she is tied up and abandoned on the side of the highway, but not before gathering a lot of clues as to the identity of the kidnappers. Will it be enough to find baby Ruby?
Strengths: Middle grade readers are very found of kidnapping stories like Peg Kehret's Abduction, Duffy's Missing, or Roberts' Hostage. I'm not quite sure why. This would certainly fit the bill, and the cover is rather appealing.
Weaknesses: Jess is described at several different points as being chubby, and this is not shown on the cover at all. The family is highly dysfunctional. Both Teddy and Jess make extremely poor choices in dealing with the kidnapping.
What I really think: There were so many things that I disliked about the book. Jess' weight was not discussed in a helpful way. Teddy's problems didn't seem to be addressed. Jess and Teddy's improper actions could well have led to Jess' death, or Ruby's complete disappearance. Yet, my students would love it. Do I want to give them a book when the characters do things that are so very wrong? Contemplating.