From Newbery Honor-- and National Book Award--winning author Polly Horvath comes a story of four sisters searching for home.
Fiona, Marlin, Natasha, and Charlie McCready are left on their own when their missionary parents are washed away in a tsunami. Fortunately, their great aunt Martha volunteers to have them live with her on her farm in British Columbia. But while they are traveling there, Martha dies unexpectedly, forcing Fiona, the eldest, to come up with a scheme to keep social services from separating the girls - a scheme that will only work if no one knows they are living on their own.
Fiona approaches their grouchy and indifferent neighbor Al and asks if he will pretend to be their live-in legal guardian should papers need to be signed or if anyone comes snooping around. He reluctantly agrees, under the condition that they bring him dinner every night. As weeks pass, Fiona takes on more and more adult responsibilities, while each of the younger girls finds their own special role in their atypical family. But even if things seem to be falling into place, Fiona can't help but worry that it is only a matter of time before they are caught. What she needs to do is find them a real guardian.
Readers who have grown to love Newbery Honoree Horvath's (Everything on a Waffle) slightly quirky characters and unique situations will not be disappointed by this suspenseful story of four orphaned sisters in Borneo, who are in a pickle after their missionary parents are swept away by a tsunami. None of the girls' "suitable" relatives are willing to take in the four children, so as a last resort, 14-year-old Fiona and her younger siblings are sent to their "peculiar" Aunt Martha, who lives in the woods of British Columbia; upon arriving, they discover that Martha has died of a heart attack but had prepared her home for their stay. Terrified that they will be separated and placed into foster care, they reside in their aunt's cottage and bribe her grumpy, beer-guzzling neighbor Al to pretend to be their guardian if they bring him dinner "a hot dinner" every night. Still, practical-minded Fiona fears it is only a matter of time before social services or Aunt Martha's suspicious attorney discovers their ruse. Presenting a delicate balance between traumas (sister Natasha getting lost in the woods) and joys (finding an unexpected cohort in the elementary school principal), Horvath's wide array of contrasting personalities adds humor and depth to the familiar premise of orphans forced to survive on their own. Ages 9 12. \n