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Children's LiteratureAfter bouncing from one foster home to another, Gabe finally finds a home with his long lost Uncle Vernon in southwest Virginia. Vernon, a Viet Nam vet, is salt of the earth and as salty as they come. A colorful character, he is good to the bone and is raising Gabe with all the right instincts. Gabe returns from his first day of sixth grade to find Vernon dead on his study floor. Not knowing what to do and worried that Vernon's death will mean he will be back in the foster care system, Gabe does nothing. When he comes home from school the following day, the body is gone but a note left there says, "I have a secret. Do not be afraid." What will happen to Gabe, and who left his mysterious note? This is a taut thriller for the younger reader while remaining very much in the realm of possibility. 2006, Delacorte Press, Ages 10 to 14.
—Joan Kindig, Ph.D.