March 8, 2016 Middle Grade Debuts

On a stormy May day in 1929, William and Maxine arrive on the doorstep of Battersea Manor to spend the summer with a grandfather they barely remember. Whatever the cousins expected, Colonel Battersea isn’t it.

Soon after they settle in, Grandpa receives a cryptic telegram and promptly whisks the cousins off to New York City so that he can meet an unknown courier and collect a very important package. Before he can do so, however, Grandpa vanishes without a trace. 

When the cousins stumble upon Nura, a tenacious girl from Turkey, she promises to help them track down the parcel and rescue Colonel Battersea. But with cold-blooded gangsters and a secret society of assassins all clamoring for the same mysterious object, the children soon find themselves in a desperate struggle just to escape the city’s dark streets alive.

“A youthful mystery worthy of John Bellairs, with lyrical language reminiscent of Edith Nesbit; yet it stands on its own, creating a fully realized world with clearly defined lines of good and evil, and just a dash of magic.”
-- Booklist
“Readers of R.L. LaFevers’s “Theodosia Throckmorton” series as well as lovers of the Rick Riordan books will enjoy this. A well-crafted adventure with a dash of magic."
-- School Library Journal

What does it mean to be fully alive? Magic blends with reality in a stunning coming-of-age novel about a girl, a grandfather, wanderlust, and reclaiming your roots.

Things are only impossible if you stop to think about them. . . .

While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought.

As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world.

"Fairytale motifs (“No rain for a hundred years”) emphasize the stark physicality of the New Mexican mesa, with its oppressive heat, spindly sheep, and numerous dangers. Through this atmospheric setting, Eagar sustains a sense of wonder and longing for small things (bees, seeds, stories) to respond to big human needs."
-- Publisher's Weekly starred review
"A poignant intergenerational story about finding and honoring your roots."
-- Kirkus

My review: I read an ARC of HOUR OF THE BEES and I loved it. This is a lovely book about family and identity and heritage, about love and loss, about magic and stories and the desert--and what a desert! Eager's descriptions of the New Mexican desert are luminous, and the lonely, remote ranch is a character of its own at the heart of the story.

Twelve-year-old Carolina is a wonderful character. I adore everything about her. She's mature enough to see all the ways her life and her family is changing around her as she grows up, but still young enough to see the strangeness and the magic slowly revealing itself around her. Her relationship with her ailing grandfather is wonderful, and every minute they spend together is equal parts beautiful and painful. 

Definitely recommended!