Kirby Zigonski – Zig – has been looking forward to this weekend for ages. His dad’s coming to town for a visit. Zig hasn’t seen him in over a year as their previous plans had been cancelled for work. But this time it’s going to happen!
Until it doesn’t.
Zig can’t get him by cell or by email, and there are no messages telling him why his dad’s not there. And Zig is only focused on what this means to him. He doesn’t realize the implications of his dad’s absence on his home life. Not until he reads about the rent deadline and sees his mom’s checkbook. No dad means no child support deposit. There hasn’t been one for a few months. They’re about to be evicted from their apartment.
But Zig has figured out how to find his dad. Zig Sr. was into geocaching, and Zig found a GPS system at a garage sale. When he investigates local caching sites he discovers a cacher named Senior Searcher. The timing of his finds lines up with his dad’s travels so he’s certain this is his dad. Zig doesn’t know why his mom is so resistant to him seeing his dad or knowing why he hasn’t come by. But he’s determined to just find his dad on his own.
This was excellent, just like I’d expect from Kate Messner! Zig is a terrific character. He brought up so many emotions for me – empathy, compassion and fear. The reader gets hints about what is going on in Zig’s life before Zig sees them. I wanted to protect him from what is coming. But he’s fantastically resilient.
The geocaching was a fun piece of the story (you can also find it in the second Candymakers book). It was a cool connecting link for several of the plot points. The author also does a great job of showing different reactions and assumptions about homelessness without being heavy handed or shaming the ignorant and uninformed. And those reactions come from students and adults. (The school librarian, who may not even have a word of dialogue in the book, is probably my favorite character when it comes to Zig and his situation.) This would be a great read aloud for classroom use or a book group; the discussion would be fantastic. I’d love to see how students respond to different things in the story. The homelessness piece reminded me of the book Crenshaw. These could be paired up nicely.
There’s a great shout out to the picture book Library Lion in this book that has stuck with me for days after finishing this. If you haven’t read it, you should track it down right away! It’s a fun story, and it communicates some great messages in THIS story.
This is absolutely lovely and touching! Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA for the opportunity to read an electronic review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!