KEEPER (Simon and Schuster/Atheneum) is Kathi's follow up to her Newbery Honor, NBA Finalist, THE UNDERNEATH. It is a lovely, lyrical and magical story of a young girl named Keeper who lives with Signe, someone her long absent mother picked up from the side of the highway years ago. Signe is, for all intent and purposes, Keeper's mother. She has a surrogate father in Dogie who runs thew local surf shop, and a grandfather in old Mr. Beauchamp. These are the only residents of the Oyster Creek road in Tater, Texas. Keeper hopes for this very day to be filled with magic: Dogie will sing his two word song to Signe (called Marry Me) and Signe will say yes and Keeper will have a new family, a real one. However, first thing in the morning, events conspire to make the day unravel.
Pacing is crucial and Appelt proves that she can drive this story at whatever pace best suits a scene. Some chapters are short, pushing things ahead quickly. Then other chapters force the reader to slow down and fill in some important missing pieces. Appelt's talent for finding just the right words is evident here, too. Tweens will gravitate toward this book about family and mystery and magic all skilfully combined into one fabulous tale.