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Suzanne Supplee

author and educator

Suzanne Supplee author educator


Sweetness All Around

Hol­i­day House, Octo­ber 2023

David Cur­tis, cov­er art

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Sweetness All Around

Almost-eleven-year-old Josephine is not pleased to be mov­ing into the Hap­py World trail­er park over the sum­mer of 1974. She miss­es her beau­ti­ful bed­room with bal­leri­nas on the wall and her pret­ty, well-dressed friends. Hap­py World isn’t hap­py. It’s dingy and depress­ing! Noth­ing like the world that head­strong Josephine wants for herself. 

But when Josephine learns that her would-be next door neigh­bor in Hap­py World was kid­napped months ago, she devel­ops a begrudg­ing inter­est in her new home. A kid­nap­ping is exciting—and all signs point to Josephine being meant to find ten-year-old Molly. 

Despite her efforts to stay detached, Josephine inves­ti­gates Molly’s dis­ap­pear­ance with help from the eccen­tric cast of char­ac­ters liv­ing in Hap­py World. It turns out the rough edges of her com­mu­ni­ty are soft­er and sweet­er than they first seemed. And the unex­pect­ed friend­ships she forms might be more pre­cious than any­thing she’s ever owned.

In this extra­or­di­nary mid­dle grade nov­el, Suzanne Sup­plee brings a small Ten­nessee town and its mem­o­rable res­i­dents to life. Per­fect for day­dream­ers and unstop­pable imag­i­na­tions. Hand this beau­ti­ful, burst­ing-with-heart read to fans of Kate DiCamil­lo’s Raymie Nightin­gale series..



  This fun­ny, mov­ing his­tor­i­cal fic­tion nov­el set in Ten­nessee in the sum­mer of 1974 is per­fect for fans of such mod­ern clas­sics as Kate Dicamillo’s Because of Winn-Dix­ie and Sheila Turnage’s Three Times Lucky. Ten-year-old Josephine is hav­ing a tough sum­mer. After a fire rips through her mom’s busi­ness, they are forced to sell many of their pos­ses­sions and leave their com­fort­able apart­ment down­town to move to “Hap­py World Trail­er Park.” Run­down and filled with a bevy of unique 1970s char­ac­ters, includ­ing a motor­cy­cle cou­ple, a hip­pie cou­ple, and a cranky, “hate­ful” land­la­dy, the cheer­ful­ly named trail­er park seems to mock Josephine who strug­gles to accept her new reality—and isn’t afraid to say so! She is ¬par­tic­u­lar­ly focused on two of her new neigh­bors: Lisa Marie, a girl her own age who lives with her “grand­dad­dy” and her Uncle Buster Lee, and Helen-Dove, a moth­er whose 10-year-old daugh­ter Mol­ly was recent­ly kid­napped by rel­a­tives. Josephine fix­ates on Molly’s dis­ap­pear­ance and is deter­mined to help find her, eaves­drop­ping and look­ing for clues to her where­abouts around the trail­er park. Read­ers will eas­i­ly warm to Josephine, a mem­o­rable hero­ine who is charm­ing­ly imper­fect and full of vim and vig­or. She strug­gles to keep her always hon­est but some­times unkind thoughts to her­self and fre­quent­ly lets her imag­i­na­tion run wild. Sup­plee has imbued the text with a south­ern ver­nac­u­lar and sense of place, along with a cast of lov­able, real­is­tic char­ac­ters who are allowed to grow and change with the cir­cum­stances of their lives in a sat­is­fy­ing way. VERDICT An excel­lent, emo­tion­al nov­el sure to make an impact on read­ers young and old. (Kristy Pasquar­iel­lo, School Library Jour­nal, starred review)

“Ten-year-old Josephine lives with her moth­er, who was recent­ly forced to sell most of their belong­ings before they moved into a trail­er in a run-down trail­er park. Too angry to be civ­il, Josephine blames her moth­er and threat­ens to run away. Storm­ing out of the trail­er, she soon meets Lisa Marie, a friend­ly girl who wel­comes Josephine, tells her about the oth­er res­i­dents, and seems con­tent liv­ing at the trail­er park. When the two decide to search for and res­cue anoth­er girl who was abduct­ed the pre­vi­ous year from her mother’s trail­er, the sto­ry takes an unex­pect­ed turn toward mys­tery and adven­ture. In the end, Josephine comes to appre­ci­ate both her mother’s choic­es and the strengths of their new com­mu­ni­ty. The author of young adult nov­els such as Artichoke’s Heart (2008), Sup­plee offers an involv­ing mid­dle-grade tale. Josephine is a lik­able pro­tag­o­nist who gets caught up in a com­pli­cat­ed, pos­si­bly dan­ger­ous predica­ment. With a 1974 Ten­nessee set­ting and well-drawn main char­ac­ters, the nov­el takes read­ers on a jour­ney with a reward­ing con­clu­sion. (Car­olyn Phe­lan, Book­list)

“It’s 1974, and Josephine and Mama have giv­en up their tony apart­ment and moved into the Hap­py World Trail­er Park, in Glen­dale, Ten­nessee. Only prob­lem is, it isn’t a hap­py place.

“With Josephine’s dad gone and Mama’s sewing busi­ness suf­fer­ing finan­cial­ly, they have no choice. The lim­it­ed third-per­son nar­ra­tion describes Josephine’s views of ‘every mis­er­able thing there was to see in Hap­py World,’ from the run­down trail­ers to the res­i­dents who are fac­ing chal­lenges. Josephine meets Lisa Marie, who’s also 10 and who lives with her grand­dad­dy and great-uncle. Lisa Marie tells her about a girl from the neigh­bor­hood named Mol­ly, who was kid­napped near­ly a year ago and hasn’t been found. Molly’s mom looks as if she’s bare­ly hang­ing on. Josephine is strug­gling, too, but she’s con­vinced that she and Mol­ly have ‘a kind of sis­ter­hood,’ and she’s sure that if she can res­cue Mol­ly, her own cir­cum­stances will become bear­able. Things move quick­ly after Josephine rec­og­nizes and inter­prets a clue that might point to Molly’s where­abouts, lead­ing to a thrilling and dan­ger­ous cli­max. The result­ing rela­tion­ships forged are well worth it all. Josephine’s resilience and abil­i­ty to reassess her­self and her sit­u­a­tion are admirable. Dif­fi­cult top­ics such as divorce, pover­ty, abduc­tion, ter­mi­nal ill­ness, and incar­cer­a­tion are thought­ful­ly and age-appro­pri­ate­ly explored. Most char­ac­ters are cued white.

“Col­or­ful­ly relayed and grat­i­fy­ing to read.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“I loved this com­pelling sto­ry brim­ming with mys­tery, friend­ship, and hope.” (Kir­by Lar­son, New­bery Hon­or-win­ning author of Hat­tie Big Sky)