Henry Hansen is very excited. The sixth grader is about to head off for school and, because it's the last day of the school year, and he's had perfect attendance, that means he will get the 'Perfect Attendance Award.' What an honor! But things don't always go as planned and today is going to be one of those days.
Henry and his younger brother Eugene live with their mother in a small house not far from school. When their father died, not long ago, Uncle Bill moved in which helped Mom pay the bills. Uncle Bill also helps the kids here and there, including promising to make the garlic bread for Eugene's fourth grade picnic. But when "UB," who works a night shift, fails to show up before the kids leave for school, Eugene is quite upset. How will he get the garlic bread for the picnic? Will he be the only one who fails to bring in a dish to share with the class?
On the way to school, all Eugene can talk about is the missing bread. Henry realizes that he has a difficult decision to make - attend class and get his award, or help his little brother by sneaking off and making the bread himself. Henry thinks about what his dad, his mom, and his friend Gracie would do. He wanted some advice!
Once they arrive at school, Henry decides to send his brother off to class and then go off to make the bread. He's about to start a day he won't soon forget.
After getting some cash from home, Henry sets off to several stores to get the ingredients for the bread. Each storeowner is happy to help Henry and they all refuse his money. It is an important lesson for Henry. But then, on the way back home to prepare the bread, a police car pulls over. There has been a young shoplifter making the rounds of local stores and without receipts for the items in his backpack, it looks like Henry is about to be in a load of trouble.
Henry learns a lot about himself and others on the last day of school; a day when he should have been in school. Friends, neighbors, school staff, and other kids all have something to teach Henry as he does his best to come to his brother's rescue. While the pace of the story gets a bit slow in places, overall it should keep young readers interested in learning whether there will be garlic bread for the picnic and if there is any way Henry can get that much sought after pin for perfect attendance.
Quill says: A sweet story about growing up that gently teaches life lessons. (Reviewed by Ellen Feld for Feathered Quill Book Reviews)