Common Sense Media says

Sweet coming-of-age story teaches empathy, kindness.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Not only will this book give kids a few ideas about how to deal with disappointment and the changes that come with growing up, but it also will teach them about the birds and shells that are found along the Florida seashore. Labeled pen and ink drawings in the first few pages are especially helpful. 

Positive messages

When Alice confronts disappointment and change, she learns that it's important to keep promises, care for others and, even when it's not easy, take the high road when life gets a bit challenging. 

Positive role models

Alice seems like a down-to-earth, real kid who feels jealousy, disappointment, and so on. But she works through those feelings, with the help of her very understanding parents. She makes responsible, caring choices, shows empathy and kindness toward others, and never completely loses sight of what is really important. 

Not applicable
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In one instance an older man yells "Oh, bloody hell!" when milk is spilled onto his pants, but otherwise the language is sweet, poetic, and innocent. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

Parents say

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Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:Kevin Henkes
Illustrator:Kevin Henkes
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Greenwillow Books
Publication date:May 24, 2011
Number of pages:192
Read aloud:8
Read alone:9

This review of Junonia was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 12 years old July 24, 2013

I Couldn't Quite Put It Down, But It Wasn't A" Page Turner"

I was nearly twelve when I read this, so it was a little too easy and young for me. Alice, the protaganist, was turning ten and I was going to turn twelve soon, so it wasnt as enjoyable as it might be reading something about someone my age. I still enjoyed reading it, though. While I didn't want to put it down, it wasnt an exact "page turner", if u know what I mean. Kevin Henkes' Olive's Ocean might be a better read for eleven or twelve year olds. This is good for kids seven thru ten.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much swearing


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