professornana (professornana) wrote,

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down by the sea

No cover to show you as the usual sources, including the publisher, does not have it posted. Kevin Henkes' offers middle grade readers yet another tasty novel in JUNONIA (Greenwillow, June 2011). In an interesting confluence, I read aloud Sandra Cisneros' story "Eleven" to being my YA lit class this morning as I have the first day of YA lit class for quite a few years. The similes she presents for readers about aging, that as we grow older, the other years are still inside like onion layers or rings on a tree trunk or nesting dolls--that seems to me to define tweendom and adolescence (and perhaps even adulthood). When I retutned to the hotel room after class, I read JUNONUIA, the story of Alice Rice, excited at turning 10. Alice has all those other years stored up inside her, too, just like our narrator in "Eleven." She has been coming with her parents to the ocean every winter for as long as she can remember. There are routines and rituals there, and Alice's birthday is celebrated in their cottage called The Scallop.

Only this summer is a little disappointing as not everyone will be there. One friend is snowed in; another brings along two guests including a rather sullen young girl named Mallory, younger than Alice. However, Alice is determined to find a special shell in this remarkable year that she turns 10 (double digits!) a junonia. The junonia is rarely seen, but Alice hopes that this magical year of turning ten will also provide enough magic to find the shell. Perhaps she will find some other things as well. <28?

Henkes' novels for middle grade readers have been some of my favorites: OLIVE'S OCEAN, SUN AND SPOON, WORDS OF STONE, THE BIRTHDAY ROOM, and BIRD LAKE MOON. For readers who only know Henkes as the illustrator of award winning books like Chrysanthemum, Owen, and Kitten's First Full Moon, these books will be a revelation.

As an aside, I was reminded of KITTEN'S FIRST FULL MOON this week as I drove home from work under the light of a full moon. Think how much ricer my appreciation is because I read that picture book. Think of how enriched we can make the lives of our kids by sharing books with them.
Tags: middle grade novels, tweens
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