Upper Valley residents may recognize bits of their own backyard in Lindsey Stoddard’s debut middle grade novel Just Like Jackie.
In the book, eleven-year-old feisty tomboy Robinson Hart is her grandpa’s right hand. She helps him fix cars at his mechanics garage, and tap the maple trees behind their house in Vermont. But she won’t let anyone know what she knows – that her grandpa’s memory isn’t what it used to be, and nowadays she has to help him remember simpler things, like how to cook the macaroni cheese they’ve always made together, and which comes first, socks or shoes.
Stoddard, a 2002 graduate of Hanover High School, drew on her own upbringing in Norwich, Vermont to create the setting of Just Like Jackie. The school yard, where Robinson gets in a load of trouble right from the first page, was inspired by the yard at the Marion Cross School, Robinson loves the hamburgers from ‘Dean and Walt’s,’ the Appalachian Trail crosses through her backyard, and her grandpa’s friend drives an old, green truck with the ‘V’ and ‘T’ missing from ‘Chevrolet’ printed across the back, just like Stoddard’s seventh-grade math teacher, Mr. Kitzmiller.
Just Like Jackie has been named to the Indies Introduce and Indies Next Top Ten lists. It has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly, and is a Junior Library Guild Selection.