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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.
Lotti has no intention of leaving her beautiful home for another terrible boarding school. After all, it is her home. Her parents left it to her when they died. Her aunt and uncle are only living in it to help take care of her, and because no one has heard from her French grandmother since before the Great War. But when her uncle resolves to send her back to boarding school–and worse, to have her dog put down!–Lotti knows she has to run away. And she knows just the person to help her.
Ben lost his adoptive father during the war. His brother is lost, too, presumed dead, although Ben is certain he’ll come home someday. Unfortunately, someday won’t be soon enough now that the local constable is investigating him. He absolutely refuses to go back to the orphanage. For one thing, they’d take away his dog. For another, he loves living on the houseboat, The Sparrowhawk. His father would be rolling in his grave if he knew how close they were to losing it. So when Lotti shows up insisting that they travel to France, how can Ben say no? After all, maybe he’ll find his brother there. With the constable and an irate uncle chasing in their wake, Lotti and Ben embark on The Sparrowhawk‘s first major voyage, hoping that the friendly accomplices they meet along the way will be able to help reunite them with the family they’ve lost.
This novel about courage and found-families follows in the grand tradition of middle grade stories about plucky young orphans embarking on zany adventures. The quirkiness of the narrative voice, along with the historical setting, lend the book a classic feel while the cast of compassionate characters keep the tone hopeful through even its suspenseful moments. A fun choice for upper-elementary readers!