A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is written by Kevin Henkes, who has won two Caldecott awards for his picture books and a Newbery Honor for Olive's Ocean. This is a gentle coming-of-age story dealing with the feelings many kids feel as they grow up, things change, adults age, and some families fall apart. It shows that kindness and empathy can go a long ways toward settling those uneasy times.
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What's the story?
Alice is turning 10 and excited to come back to the Florida seashore resort where she always spends her birthday week. But things have changed: Half of the usual vacationers -- people Alice thinks of as family -- are not coming this year. And, Alice is not sure what to make of the new renters. When her favorite "aunt" Kate turns up with a boyfriend and his 6 year-old daughter, things get even more complicated and difficult, and Alice feels lost. With the support of her parents and other regular vacationers, Alice starts searching for something even more valuable than the shells she hunts for each year -- the search for her own self.
Is it any good?
This delicate, poetic book carries a solid punch of a message that is sure to dazzle readers of all ages. Award-winning author Kevin Henkes sees into the hearts of his characters and, without being heavy-handed, weaves a story brimming with feeling and kindness. With a nostalgic appreciation of the yearly family vacation at the seashore, he shows how hard it is when things change, when kids grow up, adults age, and some families fall apart. Pen and ink drawings of various shells fill the opening two pages, as well as beginning each chapter with an image that gives the reader an idea about what is coming next. And, the language, like the artwork, is expressive, warm, and beautifully written.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the book's title. Why did Alice feel such a strong connection to the Junonia shell? What was the author trying to say about them both?
Empathy is a theme in this book. Can you think of other books or films with this theme? Do you think readers can learn about being kind from reading stories like this one?
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