Tubb, Kristin O' Donnell (Author)
Nov 2010. 224 p. Feiwel and Friends, hardcover, $16.99. (9780312611224).
In 1910, Halley’s Comet caused quite a pandemonium. Thirteen-year-old Hope, a smart and smarty-pants
heroine, travels the country on the low-level vaudeville circuit with her magician dad, but she desperately
wants to ditch the show and stay in
Hope whips up a side business selling “anti-comet” pills (thinly disguised mints) to hysterical people
convinced the comet will bring any number of horrendous calamities with it. She gets help from another
kid in the show, Buster Keaton, who, aside from being adept at slapstick, is handy at bringing a blush to
Hope’s cheeks. Tubb deftly ingrains a thoughtful ethical question into the story (is Hope really helping
people by assuaging their fears or simply ripping them off?) but never overdoes it in this bouncy tale
populated by a terrific cast of characters. The well-synthesized period flavor extends right down to the
one-liners that punctuate Hope’s earnest, easygoing, and perfectly pitched narration (“This morning’s
gravy was so thick, when I stirred it, the room spun around!”). In the end, though, it’s Hope’s relationship
with her father—a sort of proto-hippy-dippy naturalist who often seems more of a child than Hope—that
steals the spotlight with a gentle and well-earned tug of the heartstrings.
— Ian Chipman