Written by Darcy Pattison
Billed as a modern Hansel and Gretel tale, this new novel explores some of the scarier aspects presented in fairy tales. Saucy, age eleven, and brother Bubba, seven, have lost their mother and are being cared for by Krissy, their daddy’s new wife. Daddy is out on the road, driving a big rig and trying to keep the bills paid. Krissy has a drinking problem, which Daddy refuses to see. When Krissy is drunk, Saucy hides. Krissy gets so drunk one night, she threatens to hit Saucy, which is the last straw. Saucy and Bubba board a cross-country bus in order to seek help from their Aunt Vivian. Of course, Bubba insists they leave a trail of white stones for Daddy to follow to them. After a terrifying trip, they arrive at Aunt Vivian’s house, but there’s no Aunt Vivian. Eventually, things get better, but not perfect, as in the real world.
Although written at a third to fourth grade reading level, the subject matter may be for the more mature members of this age group. Saucy’s ability to recognize Krissy’s very adult problems puts her squarely at her stated age of eleven. Also, she has an uncanny ability to keep Bubba safe against all odds on a long bus trip, at home with Krissy, and with a stranger/predator. But Saucy’s struggles are a good model for children who need to trust an adult in order to solve a problem, whether it’s abuse or bullying or another issue. In the scary, modern world, abuse and bullying know no age limits.