Gray, Kristin L. Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge. Simon & Schuster, 2017. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4814-5842-9. 196 pages. Ages 8-12. P7Q8.
Vilonia’s grandmother died over a month ago. Vilonia’s mother is so depressed that she can barely get out of bed, and she is neglecting her job of writing obituaries for the local newspaper. After reading that animals can help with depression, Vilonia offers to babysit her teacher’s fish, yet is determined to prove that she is responsible enough get a puppy. Miss Bettina, the newspaper editor, must be pacified. Therefore, Vilonia takes on her mother’s neglected writing and adds a gusto to the obituaries that keeps the bereaved families smiling, the neighbor’s chickens must be kept out of traffic, there’s softball to be played, and a Catfish Festival to attend. Can Vilonia manage?
Verdict: it is wonderful to see Vilonia thinking about others and trying to improve things for her family despite her own sadness. The different pets were a nice touch, and the characters were well developed. I appreciated that Vilonia used Because of Winn-Dixie to help her cope and grow. This book is sure to do the same for its readers.
May 2017 review by Penny McDermott.