Friday, May 20, 2011

Junonia by Kevin Henkes

Yay for beach reads! I reviewed Lexie a few days ago, and now we have another pre-teen girl on the beach story. Alice is quietly thrilled on the way to her family’s regular beach vacation; she’s going to be ten. Double digits is important. But when she arrives, she’s horrified to discover that everything has changed. The Wishmeier’s grandchildren, who are older than Alice but always include her, won’t be coming this year. Helen Blair, the interesting artist, isn’t coming. Her mom’s college friend Kate, who is always focused on Alice during their visits, is bringing a new boyfriend and his six year old girl.

Alice struggles to overcome her disappointment and unhappiness with the situation, but it’s hard, especially when Mallory, Kate’s boyfriend’s daughter, turns out to be a difficult and unpleasant little girl, who is even more unhappy than Alice. As Alice starts to see the adults around her in a new light, she slowly learns to give up some of the things she wants and see others’ perspectives.

This story was beautifully written and illustrated, but I don’t see it having a wide audience. Although it perfectly captures a just-ten girl’s outlook, it is very slow-paced and focuses on Alice’s gradual awareness that the adults in her life aren’t perfect. Alice’s frequent daydreams about a goddess of the sea she has created called Junonia after the rare shell she longs to find will have a lot of kids setting down the book.

Verdict: This will be loved by a few children, but not widely popular. I’ve already bought my books-for-small-audiences for the year, so I will probably pass on this one, even though it’s a local author.

ISBN: 9780061964176; Published June 2011 by Greenwillow; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter; Purchased for the library

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