Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker

Sarah Pennypacker's first middle grade novel is a resounding success. I picked this one up because of the Julia Denos cover and I now have a new rule: Books about beaches with covers by Julia Denos are always awesome.

Stella has been sent to stay with her great-aunt Louise. She's sure it's just temporary; soon her mom will get her life back together, take the court-ordered classes, get a job, and they'll have a home again, like they had before her grandmother died. She's not too pleased when Louise takes in a foster child, Angel, whose parents are dead. Having someone else around could derail her plan of getting her mom a job as Louise's assistant, managing the summer cottages.

Then Louise dies. Neither Stella nor Angel want to be dumped back into the foster care system. Angel has been through six homes already but she knows her aunt has come from Portugal for her and as soon as she's got enough money, she'll have a home. Stella is sure that if her mom just has a little more time, she'll come back and Stella will never have to move again, she'll have a happy, safe home.

One little lie leads to another and another and slowly Stella and Angel start forging a friendship and creating a home for themselves. It's not easy and it's not always safe or happy, but in the end they both find what they need.

Verdict: Beautifully written, but never over the heads of its audience. Hand this one to kids who like strong realistic stories with a little bit of sadness and a lot of hope.

ISBN: 9780061964206; Published April 2011 by HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

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