Owl's Outstanding Donuts by Robin Yardi
Mattie's living in Big Sur with her aunt, who runs a wonderful donut shop. Mattie is mourning the death of her mother, and apprehensive about starting school in a new place, plus using the bus by herself to get there and back.
Alfred is an owl who witnesses people dumping "gloop" into the river. He decides to do something about it by tapping on Mattie's window, and encouraging her and her new friends to solve the mystery of who these polluters are.
I liked Mattie's relationship with her aunt, and her friends. They felt like real people, and Mattie's struggles to adjust to life in Big Sur also felt like something a lot of kids could relate to. The mystery of the gloopers was interesting and involving as well, with real consequences for both Mattie and her aunt.
What I wasn't quite sure about was Alfred. His chapters took me out of the book a bit, and I couldn't suspend my disbelief when he and Mattie communicate by head nods, shakes, and feather movement. I'm all for magic realism, but it didn't work for me here.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC.