A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Spanish words and phrases, such as "dios mio" and "loca," given without translation. Geology and archeology of an island in an unnamed Great Lake briefly explained, and some Latin and common names for fossils given. Importance of Darwin and his work explained. Trilobites defined and characteristics explained. Amniotic band syndrome explained.
Prominent themes of family loyalty and friendship. Hating someone can become a habit much like loving someone. Letting go of a feeling is hard and it hurts, but sometimes it's the only way forward.
Positive Role Models
Flor, 11, is proud of her ability to exercise self-control when she gets mad. She's inquisitive and fiercely loyal and seeks the truth. Jasper models intellectual curiosity and resilience and, although shy about her physical difference, doesn't let the lack of one hand inhibit her physical activity. Flor's older sister, Cecilia, flirts with rebellion but also is loyal, loving, and supportive. Flor's father is responsible, supportive, loving, and fair-minded. Her mother is largely absent but loving and protective of the family when she's present.
Violence & Scariness
Scary descriptions of darkness, creepy fog, falling into dark water. Speculation about dead bodies and fish swimming through skulls. Flor's in peril of drowning once and is violently and painfully grabbed by a teen boy once.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Teen mentions kissing but it's not described. Flor notices physically attractive attributes of a couple of boys her age.
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"Butt" four or five times.
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Products & Purchases
Cedar Point amusement park, YouTube.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Six-year-old pretends to smoke a crayon. Speculation that a car crash was caused by drinking. School custodian drinks at lunchtime; his drinking has kept him from achieving more in life. Flor tries to detect the smell of beer or drugs in a teen's car.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Moonpenny Island proffers very little to be concerned about. The strong female protagonist is in peril once, and there are a couple of scary descriptions of the dark. Strong themes about family, friendship, and loyalty present positive messages. There are no villains and lots of positive role models.
Is It Any Good?
MOONPENNY ISLAND is an absorbing and intriguing early coming-of-age story that big kids and tweens will really relate to. Heroine Flor, who's 11, faces all kinds of loss at the same time her understanding of her world and her place in it is evolving and deepening. Strong family bonds and colorful, intriguing characters round out the vivid small-town world created by author Tricia Springstubb.
Some of the symbolism and metaphor (the town clock that hasn't worked in years, Flor's scary dreams in which she's about to fall from a ledge) provide a great introduction to those literary devices for younger readers. The plot and intrigue unfold at a steady pace that builds nicely and keeps the pages turning. The ending's a bit abrupt, but it will encourage further thought about what Flor's future will hold.
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.