B. and N. Kids Blog of middle grade Christmas-time fantasy books, and I am vexed at myself for not having read Bounce, by Megan Shull (Katherine Tegen Books, September 2016), before I wrote it because it would have been a lovely addition--I didn't have any other contemporary, realistic (except for the fantasy) book. Oh well.
Bounce is the story of a 12-year-old girl named Frannie who is basically despised by her parents and big brother and sister as being a helpless, clingy wet-blanket sort of person. Instead of being helpful and supportive of her, they simply want nothing to do with her, so much so that her parents decide that this Christmas the two of them will head down to Jamaica by themselves. Frannie is crushed (and why shouldn't she be) by this abandonment. Her siblings, however, see it as a great opportunity to host a wild party....and all Frannie's bleating protests have no power to prevent the trashing of her home.
She wishes desperately that she could be part of another family....and her wish comes true, as she bounces through a series of Christmases spent as other girls. And here Frannie gets incredibly lucky, because there are lots of girls worse off than she was. But instead she gets a lovely Christmas riding horses through the snow with a supportive mother, Christmas as a famous pop start, Christmas sailing in the South Pacific, and more soberly, Christmas as a girl whose sister just died, and Christmas as a girl whose young mom is desperate to make a home for her, and who Frannie has seen being bullied at school.
So Frannie learns valuable lessons, and becomes more self-reliant, mostly because when people assume you can do things, it gives you confidence, but also because she has been able to rise to the occasion of quickly adjusting to new experiences and bravely trying them. Her Christmas bouncing is indeed a seasonal miracle, and just what she needed. Being a stronger, braver Frannie makes it a lot easier for her to feel at home in her own family.
It's fun, if a bit over the top in places (South Pacific island adventure, I'm looking at you). It's a nice one for the 10 or 11 year old girl who likes magical stories about girls enjoying improbable fantastic adventures (Princess Diaries, for instance), and though there are lessons, it's not unpleasantly didactic.