The Lotterys Plus One

Sixteen years ago, a pregnant woman walking the hospital halls serendipitously found a winning lottery ticket, enabling her--and her three co-parents--to "buy a big house to fill with lots more kids." Six children later, the self-named Lotterys enjoy an idyllic life in the 32-room Victorian home in Toronto they call Camelottery.

The two moms-in-love are Jamaican MaxiMum and CardaMom, a Mohawk woman. The two devoted-to-each-other dads are Delhi-born PapaDum and PopCorn. Into the mélange of 11 humans and their furred-and-feathered companions arrives PopCorn's estranged octogenarian father, whose progressing dementia no longer allows him to live alone. The kids call him "Grumps," as he grumbles about their "weirdy commune," making clear that he doesn't like the family's food, the family's rules, maybe even the family itself.

Irish-born, Canadian-domiciled writer Emma Donoghue (Room; The Wonder) makes her middle-grade debut with this first installment of a series. Beyond the initially perfect premise, Donoghue mixes realistic challenges and convincing solutions into the Lotterys' lives. Indonesian-born, New York-residing illustrator Caroline Hadilaksono adds further multicultural whimsy throughout. In words and in pictures, author and artist capture a family learning to accommodate growing pains, as "plus one" develops into a well-balanced, full dozen. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

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