The Bell Bandit
by Jacqueline Davies (2012)
The Bell Bandit is the third book in the acclaimed The Lemonade War Series by Jacqueline Davies. Here, it is not remotely lemonade season. In fact, the well-beloved siblings Jessie and Evan Treski are knee deep in both snow and a host of challenges during their annual New Year’s visit to their Grandma’s house in the mountains. Nothing is how it should be. Grandma has caused a fire in her house. She’s not thinking clearly. And the bell on Lovell’s Hill, which has always rung in the new year, is missing from its crossbeam. Davies sends Evan and Jessie off in different directions, to learn different lessons, in response to these dilemmas.
Jessie goes into sleuthing overdrive and divines the help of a brilliant, quirky, new friend Maxwell, to try to solve the bell’s disappearance. For Evan, his task is helping put Grandma’s house back together after the fire. He takes on the responsibility for Grandma’s whereabouts when his mom is out of the house dealing with insurance issues, evinces his growing maturity, even when situations go awry and get white-knuckle challenging.
Both Evan and Jessie are at their best here. They are really good kids and it is inspirational to see how they treat others, how they learn new skills, and how they deeply seek out each other’s strengths. Jacqueline Davies manages to truly develop each sibling’s depths in this installment.
Bullying and potential animal abuse also crop up in these pages, themes that occasionally arise the students’ lives. The Bell Bandit allows both of these themes to unfold where they can be discussed safely in the classroom and at home. Valuing life, and valuing lives as they change throughout life, are Jessie and Evan’s specialty and make The Bell Bandit another Jacqueline Davies gem.