I loved Leslie Connor's book Waiting for Normal, so I was anxious for Crunch by Connor, yet somewhat skeptical. The premise of the book - that there is not just a shortage of gas, but no gas at all to be had - leads to the Crunch. Dewey and his family run the Bike Barn, a bike repair shop, and since people have been relegated to riding their bikes as a means of transportation, the Bike Barn is seeing a lot of business. I absolutely loved this book. I felt like I was reading a Fanny Flagg book written for children. The quirky characters, the way in which Dewey handles things...it is all just such a good, unique story. To further complicate things during the crunch, Dewey's parents are away, unable to return because they also can't get any gas. This leaves Dewey and his brother to run their shop while their older sister, Lil, creates art on the barn wall. The five year old twins must also be cared for, and when the line of bike customers goes on as far as the eye can see, Dewey starts to feel the crunch himself. Because things are so tough, he has also started to get a bit careless about making his nightly deposit from the money they take in and locking up their business. When things start disappearing slowly, Dewey doesn't want to admit to Lil what is going on. Instead, he sets out to catch the thief himself. As predicted, when people are desperate, they may resort to things - like breaking the law- that they would never have considered before.
I really enjoyed Crunch and can happily recommend this to teachers this fall for a read aloud. While the book looks long, at 300 + pages, the reading is fast, and the story so enjoyable, it will hold kids attention as they root for Dewey and his family to make it through the crunch.