Pidge is miffed: her parents have forgotten her at a restaurant, each thinking that she was in the other’s car. Such are the woes of middle child Pidge: in a family of six siblings, everyone pays attention to the older kids and the babies, and Pidge feels forgotten. She decides to run away, sliding down her family’s laundry chute to sneak out the back – but she gets stuck! Pudge tries to make the best of the situation, but eventually she finds that she misses her family despite their faults. When her trusty dog leads them to her, they explain that by being in the middle, Pidge holds the whole family together, and she is surrounded by people who love her.
Oh, the mixed feelings about this book. The positives: its core message is well-done. Plenty of middle children do feel left out, and the story’s ultimate lesson, that being in the middle is a very important place to be, is a lovely one. However, there were some big problems with the execution. For a book in which a child decides to run away and/or hide to get attention, the book doesn’t do a very good job of discouraging this behavior. In fact, after Pidge slides down the laundry chute (DANGEROUS) and gets stuck for what seems to be HOURS, no one seems overly concerned about her disappearance and it results in her getting the attention and affection she wants. That’s not a safe message for children. The art has a 1970’s-era-illustration vibe to it, and at times has great personality, but can be a bit off-putting at others. The length is okay for baby bookworms, and JJ liked it fine. But ultimately, while it had some redeeming qualities, because of the issues involving Pidge behaving dangerously with no repercussions, I can’t give this one our stamp of approval.