Burnham, Molly B.

The Infinite Questions of Dottie Bing

(2) 4-6 Illustrated by Fanny Liem. Ten-year-old Dottie's treehouse-construction plans are interrupted when Grandpa Walter shows up at the family's front door, a Chock full o'Nuts coffee can in tow. Mourning the recent loss of Dottie's grandma, Grandpa Walter now consoles himself by talking to her via the Chock full o'Nuts can. Soon both Grandpa and the can have taken up long-term residence in Dottie's room (and changed the wall color). Dottie endures this disruption bravely, trying to emulate her beloved grandmother, but the situation causes what already feels like a menagerie of animals inside her to grow (an alligator soon joined by a porcupine, an octopus, and a kangaroo). Dottie's friend Sam, with his extensive vocabulary, and their antagonist-turned-friend Miles are going through personal struggles too: Sam's mom is having a new baby, and Miles's parents are getting divorced. By joining forces, they each find their way by questioning ­everything, trying to create space for themselves (primarily through the ambitious treehouse project), and helping one another along--sometimes effectively and sometimes slightly less so. Dottie's realistic inner emotional journey contrasts well with her more whimsical day-to-day antics. Though centered in processing grief and change, the short, question-titled chapters filled with humor, quirkiness, and spot illustrations create a warm and buoyant story of family and friendship.


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