I've been laid low by a nasty upper respiratory infection. The good side of this is that I've had the chance to catch up on three wonderful middle grade novels, Avi's Poppy and Ereth, the hilarious Mississippi gambling Crows & Cards by Joseph Helgerson, and my favorite, Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry.
Let me warn you now, there are some spoilers here.
As usual, I like to figure out what makes a book work so well...
Avi is a master storyteller, and his use of multiple POV in Poppy and Ereth is phenomenal. He opens with Poppy and Rye, enjoying a cozy winter snooze together. Then he switches to Rye's POV as he forges out into the snow to write a lovely winter poem. Rye returns coughing. Next chapter Avi switches to Junior, the son. Junior is pounding on Ereth's door to inform him that Rye died.
Wow! Who kills off a main character in the second chapter? But Avi cushions the blow by pulling back and telling us the news through Junior's perspective. Amazing.