Cover of Ferris
Ferris by Kate DiCamillo

By Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick, 2024
226 pages

Ages 8-12

Emma Phineas Wilkey, 11, born beneath a Ferris wheel on the county fairgrounds, has been “Ferris” ever since. “Every good story is a love story,” says Ferris’s grandmother, Charisse, who delivered her. But Charisse has heart problems and is spending more and more time resting, which worries Ferris. Charisse is also communicating with a ghost. Ferris’s Uncle Ted has moved in to work on a masterpiece, although he spends more time asking Ferris (white) to find out if his estranged beautician wife, Aunt Shirley, misses him than painting. Ferris’s little sister, Pinky, 6, is a self-proclaimed outlaw-in-training who dreams of being on “Wanted” posters and does her best wreaking havoc in order to reach her goal. Ferris’s dad is obsessed with raccoons in the attic. Ferris’s beleaguered mom seems resigned to the chaos. Ferris’s best friend, Billy, is a talented pianist with a drive to play a single composition, “Mysterious Barricades.” Ferris’s fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Mielk, whose sternness and expectations gave Ferris and Billy an appreciation for the many vocabulary words with which their lives have been enriched, is newly widowed and grief stricken. In a masterfully told story set perhaps a generation ago, with tight plotting that belies the sense of shapeless summer days, these vivid characters surround Ferris. But it’s Ferris’s own observations, actions, questions, feelings, and ability to take an occasional bird’s eye view that propels this novel detailing not a single love story but a tapestry of them. ©2024 Cooperative Children’s Book Center