After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme’s been inextricably drawn to the spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery–dinosaur bones peeking out underneath the abandoned tractor. The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away. Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.
Greenwillow Books Imprint
Three months ago, Esme McCauley’s grandfather, Paps, died while riding his tractor on Solace Hill, and ever since she has felt that he’s been trying to tell her something from beyond the grave. Like her grandmother Bee, Esme has the gift of finding things with the help of a witching stick; when she’s compelled to search, she discovers a huge secret buried at the site of Paps’ passing: dinosaur bones. As she considers whether to tell anyone of her discovery, her friend Finch stumbles upon the find and secretly reaches out to a paleontologist, knowing the find could save the McCauleys’ farm from foreclosure. Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her, since her parents are more interested in livestock and artistic pursuits than their own daughter. A fascinating binary is at play about a girl who in many ways resents having to grow up but who has always been too mature for her age. Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.QB, Starred Review
Though only 12, Esme McCauley has known a lot of sorrow, and the sting of Paps’ death is one she can’t shake. Her grandfather was one of the only people to ever show her love, seeing her parents drift through life at a distance, and her grandmother, Bee, is all business and no softness. Esme escapes her tangled family life on Solace Hill, the place where Paps died. When a storm exposes a bit of old bone on the hilltop, Esme starts to dig and discovers a dinosaur skeleton, which proves valuable in multiple ways. Light magic touches this small-town story, set in an era of telephone party lines and moonshine stills, as Esme grapples with her grief and the emergence of an unusual talent . Like Bee, she has a gift for finding lost things, but the task of finding where she belongs and how to save her family don’t come as easily. Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.Julia Smith, Booklist Online Exclusive
Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to. She lives in the rural South with her grandmother Bee, who is famous for her peach pies and ability to find most things; her mother, June Rain, who has been depressed and distant since Esme’s father Harlan left; her little brother Bo who is as “wild as the hills;” and their dog, Old Jack. Their lives are changed forever after Esme’s beloved grandfather, Paps, dies from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill. Esme struggles with losing Paps. While chasing fireflies with Bo, Esme discovers dinosaur bones. Could it be a message from Paps? Along with bringing reporters and researchers to the site, Esme’s discovery also sets her on a path to understanding the mysteries around her and coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather. VERDICT A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.Jess Gafkowitz, School Library Journal