Sunday, November 13, 2022

Looking for True

Springstubb, Tricia. Looking for True
November 1, 2022 by Margaret Ferguson Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Jude's mother works long hours as a nursing assistant, so he frequently has to babysit his younger brother, Silas, whom they call Spider because of his prediliction for climbing things. He and his best friend, Jabari, have a secret fort across town that they use to escape their families. Gladys also has to put up with small children, but mainly because her adoptive mother, Ms. Suza, babysits in the home. When her assistant quits at the beginning of summer break, Gladys finds herself pitching in to help a lot. Things are hard because her father lost his job at a local factory and has been working as a docent in a reconstructed historical village. Gladys is somewhat small for her age, and she and Jude meet when they see a dog being mistreated. Gladys has always wanted a dog, but Jude is not necessarily a fan. When the two save the dog from a man who is mistreating it, they hide the dog, whom Gladys calls True Blue (the mean owners referred to the dog as Pookie), in the secret fort. They end up spending a lot of time together; Jude is not allowed to take Spider to the fort because he was injured there, and since Gladys has a way with "sprouts", she often watches him while Jude cares for the dog. Gladys is jealous that True seems to have bonded with Jude instead of with her, and Jude doesn't understand why Ms. Suza's methods of dealing with small children are so much more effective than his own. Neither family is prepared to have a dog live with them, and the children know that eventually something will have to be done with True. When Jude's mother loses her job, his aunt Jewel is willing to help, but the mother accept it? Jude and Gladys find that they have more in common than they think, and must work together to take care of True, who has become dependent on them.

Strengths: I adored the depiction of Jude and Gladys' families. Springstubb is an Ohio author, which might be why the characters and the setting seemed so realistic to me! There are a lot of my students who are often responsible for younger siblings, but I haven't seen this depicted much in middle grade literature. I also liked that Gladys was adopted, and while this doesn't figure largely in her life, does cause her to ask questions occasionally. The in home babysitting was also interesting; I know several women in my neighborhood who have been doing this for years. It was also realistic to show a dog being mistreated, unfortunately, and I was glad that this was not too graphic. The story moved along quickly and was quite intriguing. 
Weaknesses: While I understand why Jude and Gladys didn't immediately take the dog to a shelter (they even researched no kill shelters online), it made me a bit uncomfortable as a parent that they were caring for the dog on their own. It's realistic-- my daughter once caught a stray cat and kept it in her closet for a day and a half-- but still not a great idea. 
What I really think: I liked this one but wish it had been geared towards slightly older readers. It would have been interesting to see more of Jabari, and it would not have hurt my feelings if there had been a romance between Jude and Gladys. This felt a bit like Vrabel's Caleb and Kit. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:57 PM EST

    This sounds like a fun book! Carol Baldwin