cover image Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

Kate Beasley, illus. by Jillian Tamaki. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-30261-0

Like the title character in Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale, the indefatigable Gertie Foy is determined to prove to an absent parent that leaving was a big mistake. Gertie, whose school bus passes her estranged mother’s house every day, sees a For Sale sign and learns her mother intends to remarry and move. She devises a five-phase plan to become the best fifth grader ever and get her mother’s attention before she departs, but Gertie’s ambitions run smack into full-of-herself new student Mary Sue Spivey. First, Mary Sue steals Gertie’s seat next to Jean, her best friend. Then, she steals Jean. Perhaps worst of all, Mary Sue’s mother, an environmental activist, begins a campaign against offshore drilling. (Gertie’s father works on an oil rig, and she lives with her Aunt Rae, who winningly sends her off each day by saying, “Give ’em hell, baby”). Given Gertie’s world of hurt, debut novelist Beasley wisely interjects humor as often as possible, and Tamaki’s winning illustrations add verve, perfectly capturing Gertie’s indomitable spirit. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)