Fans of Three Times Lucky and Chasing Vermeer will eat up this Southern mystery about art, family, and finding your way home. Mississippians will recognize references to Walter Anderson, but anyone will be charmed by Cricket's tenacity, strength of character, and brilliant imagination.— From Sami's 2018 Picks
Summer 2018 Kids Indie Next List
“A charming mystery with a clever and resourceful protagonist. Cricket’s adventures, driven by a longing to heal her family, are as informational as they are exciting. This book grabs readers from the start and journeys with them through ups and downs and twists and turns that leave the reader sad, hopeful, and, above all, grateful for a delightful story well told.”
— June Wilcox, M. Judson Booksellers & Storytellers, Greenville, SC
Eleven days. Thirteen clues. And one kid who won't give up. Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe is "part treasure hunt, part wilderness adventure, and all heart."--Alan Gratz, New York Times Bestselling author of Refugee
How far would you go to find something that might not even exist?
All her life, Cricket's mama has told her stories about a secret room painted by a mysterious artist. Now Mama's run off, and Cricket thinks the room might be the answer to getting her to come back. If it exists. And if she can find it.
Cricket's only clue is a coin from a grown-over ghost town in the woods. So with her daddy's old guidebook and a coat full of snacks stolen from the Cash 'n' Carry, Cricket runs away to find the room. Surviving in the woods isn't easy. While Cricket camps out in an old tree house and looks for clues, she meets the last resident of the ghost town, encounters a poetry-loving dog (who just might hold a key to part of the puzzle), and discovers that sometimes you have to get a little lost . . . to really find your way.
2020 Mississippi Library Association Children's Author Award
2019 Southern Book Award Winner--Children's Category
2020-2021 Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee
* "Told in the easy, laconic tone of good, Southern storytelling, Hackl's debut rolls off the tongue and into the heart easy as warm butter on a biscuit. Lyrical and endearing, this debut is a genuine adventure tale."--Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"A tale of adventure, full of mystery." --Robert Beatty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Serafina and the Black Cloak
"Smack Dab in the Middle of Maybe is part treasure hunt, part wilderness adventure, and all heart."--Alan Gratz, New York Times Bestselling author of Refugee
"A heartwarming coming-of-age story." --Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hattie Big Sky
"A masterful debut. Cricket is my new hero, brave and funny and full of heart. I couldn't put it down."--Augusta Scattergood, author of Glory Be
"A brilliant, utterly absorbing debut. I couldn't get enough of Cricket's adventures. Totally unputdownable."--Carrie Ryan, New York TImes Bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth
About the Author
Jo Watson Hackl was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, not far from Ocean Springs, where her favorite artist, Walter Anderson, lived and once painted a secret room. When Jo was eleven, she moved to a real-life ghost town, Electric Mills, Mississippi, and spent the rest of her childhood exploring the woods and encountering signs of the former inhabitants. Mr. Anderson's secret room and the ghost town were Jo's inspiration for this debut novel. Jo lives with her family in Greenville, South Carolina, where she raises fruits, vegetables, and many, many weeds. You can find her online at JoHackl.com.
"This piercing, often humorous adventure demonstrates how facing the truth can bring freedom and hope."—Publishers Weekly
"The plot, full of adventure, treasure hunts, and mystery, will keep young readers hooked."—School Library Journal
"Colorfully narrated by Cricket, who comes across as idiosyncratic, intrepid, and wholly likable. An engaging first novel with a distinctive Southern setting."—Booklist
"A tale of adventure, full of mystery and suspense."—Robert Beatty, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Serafina and the Black Cloak
"A heartwarming coming-of-age story."—Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hattie Big Sky
"A masterful debut. Cricket is my new hero, brave and funny and full of heart. I couldn't put it down."—Augusta Scattergood, author of Glory Be
"A brilliant, utterly absorbing debut. I couldn't get enough of Cricket's adventures. Totally unputdownable."—Carrie Ryan, New York Times Bestselling author of The Forest of Hands and Teeth