Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Arc Review: Smart Cookie by Elly Swartz

Smart Cookie by Elly Swartz. 273 p. Scholastic Press/ Scholastic Inc., January 30, 2018. 9781338143584. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)

Eleven-year-old Frankie Greene is a girl with a secret. She lives with her widowed dad and maternal grandmother in a bed and breakfast that distinguishes itself by being named for  board games and serving homemade, fresh from the oven cookies at check-in. She has a lot of responsibility helping her dad run the B & B. She'd also like a mother so she has posted a profile for her dad on a dating site and is screening "possibles." Frankie is not the only family member with secrets. Gram has a locked shed in the backyard and maybe a secret boyfriend at the senior center. Dad is having whispered arguments with a sleazy developer who wants the B & B. Her best friend, Elliot is obsessed with finding ghosts and her former best friend, Jessica is just being vile.

Elly Swartz's sophomore effort spins a lot of plates but works thanks to the voice of her spunky heroine, Frankie. The first-person narrative is amusing and fast-paced. Frankie's habit of storing worries behind her big toe caused me to worry that she'd develop gout. Her letters to her dead mother are endearing and Elliot is just a hoot! Other characters are well-developed such as Mabel, the cheating card player at Gram's senior center. Fans of Finding Perfect will not be disappointed. This gentle story is fun; part mystery with a dash of ghost story coupled with relatable school and friend drama. Give it to any reader really; but I think fans of Sheila Turnage's Mo and Dale books (Three Times Lucky, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing and The Odds of Getting Even) would especially appreciate the boy/girl best friendship and banter. 

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