Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy

By: Susan Vaught

Illustrator: Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Does Footer remember the night Mr. Abrams was killed and his grandkids vanished, or is she hallucinating? Her mom does have bipolar disorder, so maybe Footer is crazy, too. Q & A with the author. Suggestions for further reading. Black-and-white illustrations.

ISBN: 9781481422765

JLG Release: Apr 2015


Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities, Murder, Negative attitudes toward differing physical abilities, Child abuse, Arson
Topics: Mental illness , Arson , Missing children , Family life , Friendship , Mystery and detective stories , Mississippi

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Awards & Honors

2016 Edgar Awards Winner, Best Juvenile
2015 Cybils Awards Nomination, Middle Grade Fiction
Children’s Book Committee Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of 2016, Today

Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Booklist, The Horn Book Magazine, The Horn Book Guide^, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly

Horn Book

Eleven-year-old Footer Davis’s mother, Adele, is notorious in their small Mississippi hometown—“she’s a pretty thing,” the neighbors say, “but she ain’t right, bless her heart.” After shooting off an elephant rifle in their backyard, Adele, who has bipolar disorder, is admitted to a psychiatric hospit Eleven-year-old Footer Davis’s mother, Adele, is notorious in their small Mississippi hometown—“she’s a pretty thing,” the neighbors say, “but she ain’t right, bless her heart.” After shooting off an elephant rifle in their backyard, Adele, who has bipolar disorder, is admitted to a psychiatric hospital, leaving Footer temporarily motherless. To distract herself from her mother’s worsening condition, budding journalist Footer investigates a dramatic unsolved local crime—someone shot Mr. Abrams, burned down his farm, and possibly kidnapped his grandchildren. With help from her best friend Peavine, an aspiring detective with cerebral palsy, Footer interviews neighbors, takes crime-scene photographs, and researches the habits of serial killers. Her 911-dispatcher father humors her at first, but her efforts lead to serious consequences, including false accusations and disturbing visions that lead Footer to question her own mental stability. Footer’s lively narrative voice and irreverent sense of humor add levity to the heavy subject matter. The troubling mental “symptoms” that worry Footer are eventually revealed to be clues pointing toward the fate of the missing children—a clever conclusion, but perhaps too tidy for a story that so deftly illuminates the painful, complex uncertainties of life with a mentally ill parent. Like its heroine, this contemporary mystery is compelling, offbeat, and fearless. jessica tackett macdonald

The Horn Book Guide Review:
After shooting off an elephant rifle in their backyard, eleven-year-old Footer’s bipolar mother is admitted to a psychiatric hospital. To distract herself, budding journalist Footer investigates an unsolved local crime with best friend Peavine, an aspiring detective with cerebral palsy. Footer’s lively voice and sense of humor add levity to heavy subject matter. Like its heroine, this mystery is compelling, offbeat, and fearless.

Junior Library Guild

  • Footer is a sympathetic main character who has a sweet relationship with her best friend, a boy named Peavine. While the two kids try to find out who killed Footer’s neighbor—and what happened to his grandkids—they’re very supportive and protective of each other. Footer stands up for Peavine, who has cerebral palsy,
    • Footer is a sympathetic main character who has a sweet relationship with her best friend, a boy named Peavine. While the two kids try to find out who killed Footer’s neighbor—and what happened to his grandkids—they’re very supportive and protective of each other. Footer stands up for Peavine, who has cerebral palsy, and Peavine reassures Footer when she worries about her sanity.
    • A conversational first-person narration makes for a pleasant read. Footer’s unique perspectives and her eye for detail are charming: “I had pretended to kiss Peavine before, and some other guys, but mostly Peavine. The real kiss lasted two seconds, and it was nothing like pretending. He tasted like salt and the barbecue potato chips he always ate at lunch, and there was a leaf right at the corner of our mouths, and a branch scratched my ear when I did it.”
    • The satisfying mystery moves quickly, thanks to many twists and turns. Clues build steadily to a conclusion that few readers will guess.
    • For most of the story, Footer’s mother—who has bipolar disorder—is institutionalized. The book provides a nuanced portrayal of mental illness, showing the stigma attached to it and how it affects families.

Book Details

ISBN

9781481422765

First Release

April 2015

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

5 1/2" x 8 1/4"

Page Count

240

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.9; Points: 7;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 5.3; Points: 12;

Lexile

Level 800L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Paula Wiseman

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Mild language, Violence, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities, Murder, Negative attitudes toward differing physical abilities, Child abuse, Arson

Topics

Mental illness, Arson, Missing children, Family life, Friendship, Mystery and detective stories, Mississippi,

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