When Rosie Maxwell, age nine, discovers her family will soon expand from five kids to six, she explodes. “No one has that many kids anymore!” After Clara is born, Rosie’s parents are too busy to notice that the family is crazier than ever: Silas, age four, can’t talk, even though his twin sister Katie always knows what he wants. Dan, the family bookworm, has a habit of disappearing. Bossy Shirley lives on the phone, even in a crisis, and Clara can’t do much except cry and mess her diaper. Clearly, it’s up to Rosie to fix things but somehow, all her efforts make matters worse. Then a brush fire roars into Copper Canyon, threatening the Maxwell’s home. That’s when everyone learns to appreciate Rosie’s spunk, imagination, and gift for gymnastics—and when Rosie, now a hero, discovers she fits into her unusual family after all.
In its starred review of Allergic to My Family, Kirkus Reviews wrote: “[Ketchum] deftly builds a consistent picture of this entire lively family in three amusing, self-contained episodes, then tells a satisfyingly suspenseful story about how her well-established characters cope with the fire. Welcome, Maxwells! Come back soon.”
“Rosie is a spirited and funny heroine, and her antics are completely believable,” Booklist wrote. “[Ketchum] has captured the injured and indignant feelings of a harassed nine-year-old with great sympathy and humor. Rosie is sure to be popular with preteen readers.” And indeed, as one enthusiastic teen wrote to the author, “I wish you would write another book about Rosie. I think it would help a lot of preteen girls with their lives.”
As the second oldest of six children, Rosie feels lost. No one seems to notice her: she is not in charge and is no longer young enough to be babied. In addition, her siblings are constantly interfering with her life. Rosie's only hope is her gymnastic ability. ``I was doomed to spend the rest of my life trapped with my crazy family. But I'd show them. . . . Someday I'd be in a national meet . . . and all the judges would stand up and applaud. Then, maybe then, my family would notice me.'' In the gripping conclusion Rosie unexpectedly and courageously puts her talent to use, finally earning her family's respect. Murrow adroitly conveys the joys and frustrations of being a member of a large household; her depiction of this boisterous, peculiar brood will captivate readers. Vivid episodes enhance each player's development, but Rosie's character is imbued with particular spirit and insight. Ages 7-11.