From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—Mom and Dad take an annual anniversary drive up the New England coast for a week, and this year, they let 18-year-old Lil and 14-year-old Dewey hold down the fort while they're gone. In an all-too-plausible scenario, though, the national fuel shortage hits crunch level, and there is no gasoline to be had. For the first several days that their parents are stranded near the Canadian border, nobody panics: the older kids get the five-year-old twins to summer camp each day, and Dewey and his younger brother, Vince, keep their dad's bicycle-repair shop running smoothly. But when cars can't run, the townspeople rely on bikes, and as days turn into weeks, Dewey is overwhelmed with the number of repairs coming in and with the parental responsibilities that he and Lil are sharing. And when parts start disappearing and it becomes evident that a petty thief is on the loose, things get even more complicated. Not wanting to worry their parents or admit that they are in over their heads, Dewey and Lil initially resist efforts by neighbors to help. It is only when things reach the breaking point that they both come to realize that there is no shame in trusting in others. While Connor has created a cast of quirky characters and a timely dilemma, she never fully engages readers the way she did in Waiting for Normal
(HarperCollins, 2008). Even with Dewey's first-person narration, relationships come across as a little too good to be true, and the story never quite loses a subtle hint of didacticism.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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About the Author
Leslie Connor has her own memories of the energy crunch of the seventies, and she got to thinking: What comes after the long lines at the pumps? What if the earth's supply of gasoline were to finally run out? She tried to imagine what it would look like: "I saw bicycles. And I saw them taking to the highways. I also saw a changing value of goods and services. Then Dewey showed up on my shoulder to tell the story of these kids home alone, trying to keep up with operating a busy bike-repair shop and coping with the unfamiliar condition of suddenly having something everybody else wants." Leslie is the author of many award-winning books for children, including Waiting for Normal, winner of the ALA Schneider Family Book Award, Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel, and Dead on Town Line, a young-adult novel in verse. She lives with her family in Connecticut.