The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea: The Story of Annaliese Easterling & Throckmorton, Her Simply Remarkable Sock Monkey
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the central mystery in The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea involves parental loss. The only thing the Easterling children know about their mother is that she abandoned them when Annaliese was only a few months old; their father forbids any mention of her. On the way to the happy ending, there's a brief physical fight between brothers, and elsewhere blood from a nosebleed is mentioned. Alcohol's mentioned or vaguely described a few times, including several mentions of spiked punch at a party. Brief mention is made of kisses tasting like licorice. Otherwise romance is presented as mysterious and complicated. But through it all, Throckmorton the sock monkey models love, empathy, and caring support.
What's the story?
When Throckmorton S. (for Sock) Monkey receives an invitation to Great-Grandmama's 90th birthday gala, he's taken out of storage and reunited with his keeper Annaliese, who's 9. Throckmorton thinks that if he can just do something important and memorable, he'll never be stored away again. But how can a mere stuffed toy, which can't even move or speak, do something memorable? As preparations for the big party get under way, Annaliese and her brothers discover clues to their mother's past and why she mysteriously abandoned the family. Annaliese hopes that with the entire family reunited, each with their own sock monkey handmade by Great-Grandmama, she'll finally learn the truth about her mother -- and maybe even find a way to meet her at long last.
Is it any good?
Early independent readers will enjoy seeing the world through Throckmorton's eyes. His feelings of powerlessness that come from not being able to move or speak will resonate with kids as they learn to navigate an ever-expanding world. They'll also admire Annaliese as she tries to find answers and never gives up.
Author Eileen Beha creates an intriguing and believable, if not particularly vivid, sense of place that's just outside of any specific time period. The simple language will make it easy for kids to access the story, but it also lacks any sort of rhythm, poetry, or sparkle. The mystery's not quite compelling enough to keep the pages quickly turning, but kids who like intrigue and unfolding a mystery at a slower pace will find a lot to enjoy here.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about having a favorite toy or stuffed animal. Do you have a favorite toy or stuffed animal? Do you talk to it or hug it, the way Annaliese talks to Throckmorton?
What other stories do you know about toys with feelings? Do you have a favorite? Do you like The Secrets of Eastcliff-by-the-Sea as much as you like your favorite?
Great-Grandmama teaches Annaliese how to make a sock monkey. Has an older person such as a grandparent taught you how to do something? What did he or she teach you?
|Illustrator:||Sarah Jane Wright|
|Topics:||Magic and fantasy, Brothers and sisters, Friendship|
|Publisher:||Beach Lane Books|
|Publication date:||August 26, 2014|
|Number of pages:||288|
|Publisher's recommended age(s):||8 - 12|
|Available on:||Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook|