The third book in a Dahl-esque middle-grade series by award-winning poet and screenwriter Esta Spalding.
The plucky Fitzgerald-Trout siblings (who live on a tropical island where the grown-ups are useless but the kids can drive) are back! After losing the boat that had become their home, oldest Fitzgerald-Trout, Kim, has put finding a home back on her to-do list. When her sixth-grade history assignment offers a clue about the ruins of a volcanic house built by an explorer on Mount Muldoon, she and her siblings set out to find it.
The castle they discover surpasses their wildest dreams. But having a permanent home offers more challenges than the Fitzgerald-Trouts expect, especially when they begin to suspect their home is haunted. The siblings must figure out how to fix the cracks in their family foundation before one of them is lost for good.
About the authors
Esta Spalding's first book, Carrying Place, was nominated for the Gerald R. Lampert Award and her second, Anchoress, was a finalist for the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Best Specialty Book of the Year. Her third book, Lost August, won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and her fourth, The Wife's Account, was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Esta lives in Guelph, Ontario.
Excerpt: Shout Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts (by (author) Esta Spalding; illustrated by Lee Gatlin)
We had had a swim and we had eaten ginker cake and we were sitting on the rocks beside the Fitzgerald-Trout siblings’ favorite fishing stream when they began to tell me their story. Kim, the oldest, spoke first. “Kimo and I think what happened to us should be called ‘The Family Calamity,’” she said.
“Family because it had happened to the five of us,” Kimo chimed in. “And calamity because that’s a word for when things go really wrong.”
“Did things really go that wrong?” I asked.
The childrens’ five sets of eyes in their five brown faces looked at me like my question was absurd.
“Um, yes,” said Kim in a voice that exposed just how hard she and her siblings found it trying to make a grown-up understand anything important. “We’re only telling you this because we want to make sure that what happened to us doesn’t happen to any other family, ever.”
“Write that part down,” said Toby, the youngest boy, pointing to my notebook. He was holding his baby sister, Penny, in his lap and she seemed to be nodding in agreement.
I was about to put pen to paper when Pippa added, “You should put the word monster in the name too, because a monster was definitely part of the problem.”
“Yeah. Plus, it sounds way cooler.” Toby grinned at his sister.
“Okay,” I said. “‘The Family Monster Calamity.’” I wrote it in big letters at the top of the first page of my notebook. “Tell me how it started.”
That’s when they all began to talk at once. Kimo said something about their boat being taken and Kim said, “It was all the secrets.” I couldn’t make out what Toby or Pippa were saying, but it didn’t matter because as soon as the baby spoke, they all stopped talking.
“What did Penny say?” I asked them.
The baby herself answered, saying, “Wimo.”
“She’s talking about the limousine,” Toby explained. He looked more than a little sheepish.
Kim stared at me gravely. “Penny’s right. The limo was the first secret between us.”
Pippa wiped her glasses on her T-shirt and said matter-of-factly, “The limo, yes, the limo. That’s where you should start our story.”
One of CCBC's Best Books for Kids & Teens 2019
PRAISE FOR Shout Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts:
“[A]n extravagant caper complete with resilient characters and exciting adventure." --Highly Recommended, CM Magazine
“Spalding has a keen eye for the major pleasures of life, such as mud, limousine, giraffes, world records, and molding cheese wax into big read lips. A new illustrator for this entry gives us a fresh take on the spirited Fitzgerald-Trouts, their wackily diverse community of friends, and their inviting tropical-island home.” --The Horn Book