I went on the record during my CBC Radio interview about the challenge of including multiple characters in a book without creating character soup. In Elliot Jelly-Legs, I wanted to include an entire hockey team (or most of it). The solution was hockey cards inserted in the text as each character is introduced.
In Those Kids From Fawn Creek, Erin Entrada Kelly, does something similar with a page of illustrations showing entire seventh grade class of Fawn Creek K-12. The Newbery Medalist for Hello, Universe also does a great job of making all thirteen classmates–excluding the new girl–memorable and unique.
Most of the story is told from the perspective of best friends, Dorothy and Greyson. While these two characters do change the most throughout the middle grade novel–Dorothy becomes DiDi and Greyson embraces his love of fashion–it’s the new girl that steals the show. Orchid may not be exactly who she says she is but she brings a different perspective and that’s all that matters.
I can’t say too much more without giving it away. But I will tell you that I couldn’t breathe as I read the scene at the dance near the end of the story. Really. It’s that good.
Erin Estrada Kelly has once again created a cast of characters you can’t stop cheering for, even if you’ve never been to a town as small as Fawn Creek. And if you–or the young readers in your life–have lived in a small town, Those Kids From Fawn Creek is an absolute must read.