by Shari Green
Pajama Press, 2016
Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles is a gentle verse novel for middle-grade readers. Bailey, the sensitive, perceptive narrator, is living on a West Coast island with her little brother and her estranged grandmother for the summer while her parents try to repair their marriage. She soon meets Jasper, a man who was once a village leader but is now an outsider, and Daniel, a boy with a camera and a secret. One day Jasper locks eyes with Bailey as he utters one of his prophecies. His words set the villagers gossiping and push Bailey to search for miracles.
Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles tackles some serious problems common among kids today. Its resolution is gentle and hopeful, but also realistic. When Bailey asks for help, people — even people she believes dislike her — come to her aid. From the climactic event Bailey discovers personal resilience and the value of expressing her feelings and her fears. Not everything can be fixed, but sharing a problem with someone who loves us makes it easier to bear. This is a message middle-graders cannot hear too often.
I really enjoyed this book. It’s an excellent choice for thoughtful middle-grade readers and would make a valuable addition to a school or classroom library. It’s also a fine complement to the verse novels of K.A. Holt, and a stepping stone to the work of authors like Sonya Sones, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and Martine Leavitt. Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles is also a physically beautiful book, generously designed and appealing in the hand. Watch for this one!
This review was originally published in Resource Links, October 2016.