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Worth the Candle
That valuable endangered species, The Middle Child, is the star of this darling book,a story whose very title seems to reflect the in-between-ness of its almost-9-year-old heroine. PK feels like “the jam in the sandwich” between her two sisters: almost-a-teenager Megan, 11, and Rabbit, who soon will start kindergarten. Jam-ness, by definition a sweet condition, has become sticky of late, when everything, suddenly, seems to be changing. Megan is full of self-importance and hormones. Rabbit is growing up, whereas PK feels a bit mired. Their mother has signaled her determination to move them all to a new apartment.
A pondering child like PK takes change such as this very seriously. Will Megan grow even more remote when she no longer sleeps in the bunk above PK? Will there be space enough in a new apartment for her collections of cherry pits, glow-in-the-dark plastic ants, and boxes of shells and buttons and pennies? Will PK be able to tell bathtime stories to Rabbit if they leave the apartment where a built-in laundry hamper has been her seat of inspiration?
Considering how itinerate Americans are, it’s a wonder that there aren’t a jillion children’s books about moving. But there aren’t, and even this expertly written one was published and went out of print in about the time it takes cottage cheese to spoil. Thank goodness, that a decade after she wrote this book, Susan Patron wrote another one, The Higher Power of Lucky, that won the Newbery Award. To capitalize on Patron’s new fame, Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe has been reissued with new illustrations by Abigail Halpin. And perhaps now many, many more readers can make PK’s acquaintance and appreciate what an excellent problem solver she is, especially as she says goodbye to the almost-magical laundry hamper and to a big blue easy chair that has been as dear to the sisters as a faithful dog. Those readers will be so relieved to know that PK’s imagination thrives anywhere she calls home.