By Melissa Savage
Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017. Fiction.
After her mother dies in 1975, Lemonade Liberty Witt is sent to live with the grandfather she's never met in Willow Creek, California - Bigfoot Capital of the World. She's sure that she'll be able to move back to San Francisco to live with her fourth-grade teacher Miss Cotton soon, and so Lem doesn't try to make friends in her new, weird town. Not even with Tobin, her neighbor and the president and founder of Bigfoot Detectives Inc. As Lem reluctantly begins hunting for Bigfoot she finds a family and learns that everyone loses people they love but that shouldn't keep you from making lemonade out of the lemons.
There are a lot of "found family" books in middle grade fiction and a lot of great books to help kids understand grief. What obviously sets this book apart is the Bigfoot hunting - and I really loved it. This book is a tearjerker - no doubt - but it is also humorous enough at parts to still appeal to children. LEMONS exists in a fun world where realism, historical fiction, and fantasy all merge and Melissa Savage deftly handles the difficulty of writing in three genres at once. Lemonade and Tobin are two characters who feel like real children dealing with real, difficult trials (so they are both sometimes frustrating and self-centered) but they are interesting people who overcome a lot - a great model for young readers. This is a humorous and heartwarming read for Bigfoot believers and deniers.