I predict that people will buying Lemons because of the cover alone. Doesn’t it pop? It somewhat accurately gives a taste of what is inside as well. The fun cover evokes the fun and childlike belief that occurs with the exploration of Bigfoot — but there’s more. The whole reason that 11-year-old Lemonade “Lem” Witt is living with her grandfather Charlie in Willow Creek — the Bigfoot capital of the world — is because her mother died. Lem and her mom had been living in San Francisco, estranged from Charlie since the death of his wife caused a rift between Lem’s mom and him. He gladly takes her in and tries to make her feel at home and loved.
The reader can see his care in the interest Charlie has taken in Tobin, a misft boy whose father has been MIA in Vietnam for years.
There’s lots of sadness, but it’s processed in the way that kids process it (at least in middle grade novels) — in a matter-of-fact sort of way. The book never gets maudlin as Tobin deals with bullying for his differences, missing his dad and not knowing where he is, and Charlie tries to take his chance at repairing the relationship with his daughter’s family, and Lem deals with homesickness and trying to adjust and understand the death of her mother.
There is not just sadness, but a bit of whimsy and fun with the summertime freedom and the passion to find and document the presence of Bigfoot.
The setting back in the 70’s gives the book a classic feel. Lem and Tobin ride bikes and eat homemade cookies (that may be why old Mrs. Dickerson calls them to check out her “sightings” so frequently). They answer the landline at the Bigfoot Headquarters. Other than that, it will still feel current to children.
There are some twists and turns, some humor and sadness. Melissa Savage truly helps her characters make lemonade out of lemons. This book is great for any kid ready to read it, ages 8 and up.