Fun New Middle Grade Sequel by Laurie B. Arnold

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HELLO THERE, DO YOU STILL KNOW ME? is the second and newest book in the Madison McGee Adventure series by Laurie B. Arnold. HELLO THERE is a fun genre mashup that straddles the line between sci-fi, magical realism, and contemporary adventure. 

Twelve-year-old Madison is spending her summer in Costa Rica with her best friends Violet and Noah, under watch of her old neighbor Rosalie Claire – a woman with a magical fanny pack that can produce anything from inside. While they plan to spend their time surfing and hanging out at the beach, this is cut short by the arrival of Madison’s grandmother, who is sick. While Rosalie’s fanny pack would normally hold the perfect cure, the pack isn’t working. To fix the magic fanny pack and save her grandma, Madison and friends must go back in time to meet Rosalie’s dead grandmother. However, it’s not that easy – they must find a piece of ancient amber with a dead frog in it, and avoid getting stranded in the past. Adventures ensue. Tropes familiar to Back to the Future fans crop up – for example, Madison meets her mom as a child in the past, and contemplates bringing her back to Costa Rica with her – but would that erase Madison from existence?

The writing style is really smooth and fast paced. I liked the time travel elements and the fact that there’s a great dog character named Leroy. I also enjoyed watching Madison get to know her mother better by meeting her as a child in the past. There are great settings in this book, too, and the author does a wonderful job transporting the reader there. The plot is fast-paced, and each chapter ends in a way that makes you want to keep reading.

Some of the dialogue read unrealistically and included awkward, outdated slang. I also struggled a bit in the beginning, as the characters frequently reference events and people from the first book that aren’t really explained for someone who hasn’t read it. I would recommend picking up the first book in the series before reading this one.

Overall, this was a fun middle grade adventure that I think young readers will enjoy.