The whole thing I love about reading is this. Just when I start feeling the teensiest bit anxious because nothing is really grabbing me, something does. Tricia Springstubb’s middle grade novel What Happened on Fox Street had me hooked from the first page. It’s a generous book. That’s truthfully the best word to describe it. The book is about an eleven-year-old girl named Mo Wren who has lived in one place her whole life – Fox Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Mo’s family includes her father and her younger sister, Dottie, who is regularly referred to as the Wild Child. Mo’s mother died when Dottie was just a toddler, and now Mo is often responsible for her little sister while their father works long hours for the water department. Everything begins to change when Mo’s best friend, Mercedes, who has moved to Cincinnati, arrives to spend the summer with her grandmother who also lives on Fox Street. Fox Street is magical. If there really was a street so full of charm and kindness in Ohio when I was growing up, I missed it. Not that we didn’t know wonderful people, but Fox Street is like something out of a book. I wanted to sit on one of the character’s front porches and watch the action from there.
As wonderful as Fox Street is though, it is not paradise. Times are tough in Cleveland and many of Mo’s neighbors are suffering. What hurts Mo the most though is that her dearest friend Mercedes doesn’t love Fox Street the way she used to – and the way Mo still does. After I finished reading What Happened on Fox Street, I sent an e-mail to the teachers in our Upper Elementary program asking them to save a space for this one in next year’s reading plan. They might suspect that I’m biased towards books set in Ohio, and that may be a fair assumption. The fact of the matter is that this one would have made the list wherever it took place.