Seventh grader Louise changes her name to Thumbelina (small and mighty like herself). She then resigns as star of the school’s gymnastics team, partly in response to a series of threatening notes from less qualified team members. Recently re-named, now free from team sports, Thumbelina has received her first “mash note.” Her best female friend Reni and her best male friend Henderson (Reni’s older brother) spend the bulk of the charming and delightful top plot trying to discover the source of the mash notes. The most likely suspect seems to be the even older pizza delivery guy, Benny, The Boy on Cinnamon Street.
Cleverly woven beneath, around, and through these funny, warm, well written episodes, we find the deeper real plot. Thumbelina lives with her grandparents. She has few memories of Dad, and fewer still of her seemingly distant Mom. While pizza delivery guy Benny isn’t the source of the mash notes after all (sorry for the Spoiler), he IS the key that unlocks Louise’s trauma-rattled brain, revealing the blocked memory of her mother’s suicide. Once the harrowing memories have been confronted, Louise/Thumbelina returns to the sport she loves, supported by the author of the mash notes (and his sister), her grandparents, and a new inner peace. Phoebe Stone has constructed a readable tale about likable youngsters who face a real-world personal tragedy in a realistic manner. She knows her subject well – when she was eleven, her father committed suicide.