Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Junoninonia by Kevin Henkes


Junonia by Kevin Henkes

The blurb:

Returning to the beach cottage—a cottage named Scallop—where she has always celebrated her birthday is a special occasion for Alice Rice.

Who will see the first dolphin this time? The first pelican? What will have changed? Stayed the same? And will this be the year she finally finds a junonia shell?

Alice's friends are all returning, too. And she's certain her parents have the best party planned for her. Alice can't wait. If Alice is lucky, everything will be absolutely perfect. Will Alice be lucky?

Junonia introduces us to nine-year-old Alice Rice at the very start of her Florida vacation with her parents Tom and Pam.  Alice is an only child and she longs for a larger family.  Her parents were both only children and all her four grandparents are dead.  Alice considers the neighbors that she spends summers with to be her extended family – the artist Helen Blair, her mother’s college friend Kate, the “ancient Mr. Barden,” the Wishmeiers and their three grandchildren.

The summer brings Alice some disappointments – the Wishmeier grandchildren have started high school and are too busy to travel to Florida, Helen Blair is caught in a snowstorm and instead gives up her cottage.  The “replacement neighbors” are Kate’s new boyfriend Ted and his daughter Mallory.  Alice had been looking forward to spending alone time with Kate – so six-year-old Mallory is a letdown.

Mallory is even less fun in person. She’s shy, irritating, and emotional – she misses her mother deeply.  As Alice goes beyond the initial irritation and befriends Mallory, the book has magic moments. 

Overall, Junonia is a heartwarming and encouraging story for young readers. I've always loved Kevin Henkes's illustrated books for children because of his mix of humor and warmth.  The early books encourage both personality and kindness in children and Junonia continues this underlying sensibility. A chapter book with many enjoyable sections: searching for sea shells, walks on the beach, special late night meals, and an unforgettable tenth birthday party.  Junonia is also a story that celebrates patience, friendship, and kindness – something to be enjoyed and shared. 

ISBN-10: 0061964174 - Hardcover $15.99
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (May 24, 2011), 192 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley.

About the Author:

Kevin Henkes is the author of Sun & SpoonBird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Book Olive's Ocean. He also writes and illustrates picture books, and among his many titles are the national bestsellers My GardenOld BearA Good Day, and Kitten's First Full Moon, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Henkes is also the creator of a series of books starring mouse characters, includingLilly's Purple Plastic PurseLilly's Big DayWemberly WorriedChrysanthemum, and Owen, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about his and his writing at

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