5.0 5
by Amber McRee Turner

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In this funny, moving novel, ten-year-old Cass takes a roadtrip with her dull-as-dirt dad, only to learn that he has a few surprises up his sleeve, including the power of Sway, a family secret that just might be magical.See more details below


In this funny, moving novel, ten-year-old Cass takes a roadtrip with her dull-as-dirt dad, only to learn that he has a few surprises up his sleeve, including the power of Sway, a family secret that just might be magical.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Barbara Troisi
Imagine this—a wild summer back roads trip through the southern states in an old dumpy RV called The Roast with a boring dad, hooking lone old shoes along the highway with a fishing rod and sharing a magical force called ?Sway' with small town folks! Ten-year old Cass (named after the castanea dentate tree) experiences a short-lived reunion with a mom who abandons her family for a man named Ken. Dad plots a scheme to initiate healing and bonding that begins with a set of encyclopedias, dad's persona of M.B. McClean, (a green and yellow linty costume), the old shoes found near each town they visit and a traveling roadshow that features a strange suitcase with MBM stamped on it and stocked full of soap slivers with imprinted initials belonging to famous heroes and linked to Sway, the magical force guaranteed to bring joy and inspiration to all who wash in the suds. This title, a first by the author and a recommended purchase, is filled with believable characters, inventive words, humor and sadness. The encyclopedia ensures M.B. McClean (dad) of real facts and one waits anxiously for him to find the perfect historical character fit for those in need of ?Sway' power. It's a story about rescue—those who experience the magic of the soap and the new found relationship that unveils between Cass and her dad. Old soap and old shoes! Reviewer: Barbara Troisi
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Cass Nordenhauer, 10, wants to be just like her mom, who is a disaster-response volunteer. Toodi Bleu's life is so exciting—she's off rescuing people for months at a time, while Cass is stuck at home in Alabama with her boring dad. Cass has high hopes that she'll accompany her mom on some missions this summer, but instead, Toodi runs off with a man she met doing rescue work. The story really takes off when Cass's father steps up to provide his daughter with another sort of summer adventure—crisscrossing the South in a beat-up RV named The Roast, giving away something called Sway. He has a suitcase full of soap slivers, all supposedly belonging to famous historical figures. Anyone who washes with one will get some sway, taking on the characteristics of its previous owner. This leads to many memorable (if a little sappy) encounters and exchanges among Cass, her dad, and the folks they meet, as well as some painful truths that Cass learns about her parents and life itself. The colorful writing can be a little much (like Toodi's constant rhyming couplets), and Cass's believability is strained at times (what 10-year-old can recognize fake antiques but accepts that the soap slivers really belonged to Napoleon and Mother Teresa?), but by the end, Cass will have worked her quirky way into readers' hearts.—Jenny Berggren, New York Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
Ten-year-old Cass can't wait for her mother to return from a four-month-long disaster rescue trip, but when she finally does, it's a bitter disappointment. Cass and her father have tried to adapt to Toodi Bleu Nordenhauer's frequent absences: "My dad tries to fill in the empty part of the pizza when the Mom slice is taken away." But this time Toodi's leaving Alabama for good--not for a disaster but for a stranger named Ken. Who needs rescuing now? Emotions are raw and real here--it's genuinely painful to witness Cass' denial-heavy response to her mom's sudden exit, as well as her ice-cold view of her well-meaning father. The story perks up considerably when Cass and her dad hit the road in a dumpy RV called "The Roast" ("more Ritz cracker than Ritz-Carlton"). Her once–scorn-worthy dad is full of surprises, including his transformation to M.B. McClean, traveling purveyor of soap shavings allegedly owned by historical figures from Abraham Lincoln to Clara Barton. With the power of "Sway," those heroes' finer qualities are passed along to the washer. Cass' reactions to Sway and to her "new father" are fascinating and utterly credible, as is her evolving perception of her wayward mom. A linguistically playful heart-wrencher about healing, love, forgiveness and the power of believing in something good, whether it's old soap or your own family. (Fiction. 9-12)

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Product Details

Disney Press
Publication date:
Single Title (One-Off)
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File size:
4 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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