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“Fans of Kate DiCamillo, Jennifer Holm, and Polly Horvath will find this an enjoyable and engrossing read.” —School Library Journal
Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a truck. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face, though she prefers to think of it as a precious diamond.
Then one day a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes she must find a home for them both. She discovers a cozy house with gingerbread trim that reminds her of frosting, where two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in. Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world—if only she will let herself be a part of it.
Eleven-year-old Bee is sensitive about the prominent diamond-shaped birthmark on her face, which she hides with her hair. Ever since her parents' death, Bee been raised at a traveling carnival, working the hot dog stand with a young woman named Pauline (between chopping onions and cruel comments from fairgoers about her face, Bee spends much of the book's early chapters sobbing). When Bee's future with Pauline is jeopardized, Bee runs away ("I do not have much of a plan except we need a home that will take a girl with a diamond on her face, a funny-looking dog... and a baby pig"). Two strange women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in, and Bee's life improves dramatically, but her "aunts" barely eat, and no one else can see them. Fusco (The Wonder of Charlie Anne) has a strong handle on her WWII-era setting, and she delicately describes the stress of being viewed as different. But while Bee has suffered mightily, the magic- and coincidence-driven events of the second half result in an ending that's too good to be true. Ages 8 12.