if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

A Star for Scarlett

Because I don’t think it’s available online yet, I’m delighted to post this complete starred review of SUITE SCARLETT from the forthcoming June issue of Booklist:

The Hopewell Hotel, 75 years ago a stylish Upper East Side haunt, has fallen on hard times. Its proprietors, the Martin family, have let the last remaining employee go, and now it’s up to the four children, Spencer, Lola, Scarlett, and Marlene, to keep things afloat. Enter one Mrs. Amy Amberson, a flamboyant, mysterious guest, back in New York after a long absence, with some clandestine motives. Mrs. Amberson is to occupy the Empire Suite, just today entrusted to Scarlett as a “present” on her fifteenth birthday (a family tradition), for the entire summer, and keeping her happy will test Scarlett’s ingenious mettle. What follows is some utterly winning, madcap Manhattan farce, crafted with a winking, urbane narrative and tight, wry dialogue. Beneath the silvered surface, Johnson delivers a complex sibling relationship. Like the Hilary McKay’s Casson quartet, first introduced in Saffy’s Angel (2002), these siblings are bound by tender, poignant connections, all the more real for the absurdity of their circumstances. We can only hope that they, too, return for more intrepid adventures.

Woot! I love the McKay books, too, and couldn’t be happier with the comparison. Have you bought SUITE SCARLETT yet? Have you seen Maureen’s happy dance?

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