Run, Pip, run J. C. Jones
Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781743319222
(Age: 10+) Pip's origins are very unclear, even to her. She was left in an apple crate on Sully's doorstep as a newborn and so he named her Pip and raised her as his granddaughter. All goes well until Pip's 10th birthday when just as he is presenting her birthday cake, Sully has a stroke and falls, ending up in hospital. And suddenly the police want to know about Pip's family so she can be cared for while Sully is recuperating.
But Sully has filled Pip's head with stories of the sorts of people who take in foster kids so there is no way she is going to let them take her. And so begins an engaging story of how Pip lives on her wits to keep herself out of their clutches, starting with finding an empty house that is for sale where she can live in the luxury that she has never experienced before. Living with Sully means she knows her way around the local racetracks so she is able to get some money - she's desperately trying to raise enough for Sully to go to rehab, thinking it's one of those expensive places where famous people go to dry out - and the story cracks along as she dodges the ever-encroaching arms of Senior Constable Molly Dunlop. And then Sully dies.
This is a story that I would put in the pile of the good, solid read for those looking for something a little different, an appealing heroine (who is more like a boy) and a fast-paced but realistic adventure. It's about love, loyalty, friendship and courage as a little girl tries desperately to cling onto what she knows and believes. It is cleverly written so that the reader can understand Pip's perspective of being independent and invincible but also appreciate that the adults are trying to do what they know is best for her - her current life is not sustainable.
If you're looking for a great read-aloud to kickstart Term 2, this would be it.