By Publishers Weekly
With an affectionate nod to the works of Edward Eager, Shawl (Everfair, for adults) writes about “magic happening to regular, ordinary kids” in this immersive 1962-set novel that combines the historical and the magical. When their mother is hospitalized with a respiratory malady, 10-year-old Winna Cole and little sister Tupelo stay with their grandparents in Vandalia, a town that once served as a stop on the Underground Railroad. After Tupelo inadvertently breaks Winna’s glasses, Grampa Carl gives her a pair of silver-framed spectacles that once belonged to her great-aunt Estelle. The glasses contribute a rainbow shimmer to her view of the everyday—and, combined with a speculative phrase and a bit of mist, allow Winna to communicate with Estelle’s ghost. The specter quickly asks for help finding Winna’s great-uncle Key, whose disappearance as an infant led to a curse that’s affecting the ability of the family—including Winna’s mother—to “breathe easy.” Starring an inquisitive, perceptive protagonist and a supportive cast of adult characters, this intergenerational story underlines themes of family history and inheritance alongside a meditation on ordinary wonders. Protagonists cue as Black.