Meeting Miss 405 by Lois Peterson

Tansy does not need a sitter.  She is certainly more than capable of taking care of herself after school, especially since she used to take care of herself and her mom.  At least, that’s what she thinks.  Unfortunately, her Dad firmly believes she needs a sitter while he is at work.  Hence Miss 405, Stella, is recruited to watch Tansy after school.

Tansy has a lot going on in Meeting Miss 405 .  Her main worry is the reason she needs a sitter in the first place- her mom has been diagnosed with depression and is staying with Grandpa until she feels better.  Tansy’s dad works long hours and is worried about her staying alone after school.  Plus there is Devin, the bully at school who keeps saying Tansy’s mom is in the nuthouse, Devin’s life-threatening peanut allergy that has completely ruined every lunch Tansy could bring to school, and a host of other worries floating through her mind at any given time.  Plus, Miss Stella is weird, or so Tansy thinks.

Meeting Miss 405 is a short book, but it deals with a lot of heavy material.  Tansy’s mom is struggling with depression and it has affected the entire family.  Not sure what to think, Tansy oscillates between anger and pity, all while missing her mom terribly.  Dad is struggling to keep it all together and Tansy slowly realizes that he is feeling much like her, only as a grown-up he isn’t as free to show it.  And then there is Miss Stella.  She reminds me a bit of the audacious Somerset sisters in Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters. Not at all who she seems to be in the beginning, she serves as a stabilizing factor in Tansy’s life.  Wise and gentle, she also tells it like it is, all while helping Tansy to slow down and live in the moment while forgetting her worries.  

Full of thought-provoking issues, this was a novel I fully enjoyed.  One of my favorite aspects was that the book didn’t wrap everything up in a neat little package at the end.  Tansy’s mom is depressed, which isn’t something that magically goes away, and Lois Peterson makes that clear.  In today’s world, too many of our students struggle with depression in their family and this is the first intermediate book that I have seen realistically deal with the topic.

I really enjoyed the book, and honestly didn’t expect to.  From the cover and the back copy, it seemed like a book for very young readers.  I was pleasantly surprised to find it was very deep and thought-provoking.  Orca Book Publishers should really be marketing this as more of a high-low novel, as the plot revolves around some heady issues but the text is at an accessible level.  I have a handful of readers this year who will really enjoy this book immensely and actually be able to comprehend it without struggling.   My only issue is that the bottom front cover includes the copy “Orca Young Readers”.  I think a lot of intermediate kids will be turned off by this, because it makes the novel seem like a “baby” book.  Hopefully, I will be able to sway my struggling readers to read this title!

 

*This review reflects my opinion and not those of the Cybils Middle Grade panel as a whole.

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