A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
As they follow the characters, readers will pick up bits of historic knowledge (for example, about baseball and Yogi Berra) and learn about natural phenomena, such as gravity, and the fact that the air gets thinner the higher you fly.
Strong messages about being a good friend, including not forsaking the ones you have, and about how love, friendship, hard work, and patience help you in hard times. Also about finding your own path in life and how that's ultimately a good thing for everybody.
Positive Role Models
Though often young and foolish, Cricket and Firefly are brave and determined in pursuing their dreams, as well as in thinking for themselves instead of following conventional wisdom that makes no sense. Peter, their human friend, is coping with a lot of issues because of his lost friend, but he remains a true friend to Cricket and Firefly, even when he's told they're "imaginary." Adult characters, human and otherwise, especially Elder (a firefly), Vole, and Peter's mom, show much love and wisdom in the support and guidance they give the young ones.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of bad things happen to characters and their loved ones, and though the deaths of characters and their loved ones occur offstage, the distress of the bereaved doesn't. A friend's crippling injury motivates a character to think outside the box; another character almost dies in a fall. Poignant partings, for example:
"Gloria blinked slowly, her blue green eyes disappearing and then reappearing. She was crying. Far off in the distance, the river glinted. The storm was over. The young crickets closed their notebooks and started to return to their desks.
"'I'd go with you if I could,' whispered Gloria. 'But I can't. Leave, for both of us.'"
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, as in other works by Alison McGhee, there's a lot of loss woven into the story in Firefly Hollow: A child has recently died, leaving his pal bereft; a character is the sole survivor of a flood that killed his whole village; young Firefly's mentor "turns into a star" (dies); characters have faithless friends who forget them. An important character nearly dies in an accident, while another's friend, a cricket, has been disabled for life by a carelessly discarded lollipop stick. The strong, relatable characters and Christopher Denise's plentiful illustrations (including several full-color plates) draw the reader into a lively, uplifting tale. But for many, there are a few tears ahead in an often-poignant story.
Is It Any Good?
Sweet and relatable, this charming tale of independent-minded youngsters following their dreams and coping with loss may be too emotionally intense for some readers. Author Alison McGhee puts a lot of affection into her characters, and illustrator Christopher Denise brings them charmingly (and colorfully) to life.
The story's a natural for kids whose dreams and interests aren't popular or stereotypical. And there's a lot of gentle wisdom and courage along the way.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.