Monday, June 20, 2011

Junonia, by Kevin Henkes - a thoughtful coming of age story (ages 8 - 11)

Turning ten is a big deal, something that adults often forget. And yet that milestone is something that our children are keenly aware of. They are moving from being children to adolescents; they're not quite teenagers but they don't really play little kid games so much. Kevin Henkes new novel, Junonia, is a perfect summer read for your tween if she wants to quietly escape from her busy life and join Alice on her 10th birthday.
by Kevin Henkes
NY: Greenwillow Books, 2011
ages 8 - 11
available on Amazon or at your local library
In this quiet novel, Kevin Henkes explores the thoughts and feelings of Alice Rice, an observant young girl with a “pale, watchful face” who is on the cusp of adolescence. Alice and her family spend a week every February renting the same beach cottage on Sanibel Island, Florida, celebrating her birthday with the people who return to this vacation spot each year during the same week.

Alice takes great comfort from her family’s traditions, but she’s also feeling a little off kilter this year as she notices things don’t always stay the same. Her mother’s best friend Kate isn’t sharing their cottage; instead, she has come along with a new boyfriend and his daughter, Mallory. Alice is expected to befriend Mallory, a troubled younger girl.

Like the world around her, Alice is both changing and trying to keep things the same. Alice is self-centered and petty at times as she resists Mallory’s intrusion into her vacation, and yet she is empathetic and caring at other times as she comes to understand Mallory’s pain. Henkes develops these characters with tender affection. Alice longs to find the rare Junonia shell; instead, she finds a greater understanding of herself, her family, and the world around her.

Listen to Kevin Henkes talk about his creation of this special story:

You may know Henkes from his picture books like Lily's Purple Plastic Purse or Kitten's First Full Moon, but this novel is something entirely different. Junonia will pull in reflective readers who savor small moments and enjoy connecting to a character's emotions. I think it will appeal to readers who enjoyed Ida B. ..., by Katherine Hannigan (reviewed here) or other realistic fiction.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Greenwill Books a division of Harper Collins. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your review. Junonia is on my pile for this summer. Although, I did booktalk it for the PTO and I rarely booktalk a book that I haven't read! I did tell them that, but also said that Henkes is an automatic purchase for me, the guy can do it all, write, illustrate. The book is gorgeous in every way. The heft, the feel of it, the colors are pleasing. I think I actually said after all that, "I don't care what it's about! It's a new Henkes book!"