When Sea Becomes Sky
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that When Sea Becomes Sky, by Gillian McDunn (Honestly Elliot), is a fictional story about siblings who spend their summers exploring the salt marshes of South Carolina. The relationship that the siblings share is loving and mutual. Expect themes of loss and grieving. Character strengths include compassion and empathy.
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What's the Story?
In WHEN SEA BECOMES SKY by Gillian McDunn , a seventh-grader named Bex welcomes summer on the island where her family lives off the Carolina coast. She and her 9-year-old brother Davey love to explore their favorite part of the salt marsh called the Thumb. One day, because of the drought they're experiencing, the siblings see something uncovered in the marsh that they've never seen before. They make it their summer goal to solve the mystery, but this mystery is only a small part of a larger, more complicated subject. They are cast on an inward journey that will ultimately call for Bex to uncover more about herself and her family.
Is It Any Good?
Cozy, compassionate, courageous, this story about siblings and their search for connection with the past is heartwarming. Though this book doesn't feel as fleshed out as previous books by Gillian McDunn, the surprises in this story feel very personal. And Yaoyao Ma Van's illustrations add to the story and atmosphere.
Kids who are fans of McDunn's Carolina coast novel Caterpillar Summer will enjoy the familiar setting. And though there's a twist at the end of this book that feels satisfying, the characters are not quite as developed as in other works by this veteran author. Still, there are great messages about the importance of family.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about empathy in When Sea Becomes Sky. How do books and other media help people become more empathetic?
Drought has affected the salt marsh where Bex and her family live, which her family thinks may be a result of climate change. What do you now about climate change? Have you seen any movies that deal with its impact on the world?
Art is used in this book as a way to help people heal from the pain they've experienced. Do you use art in your life to express complicated or difficult feelings?
- Author: Gillian McDunn
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Activism, Arts and Dance, Brothers and Sisters, Science and Nature
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Empathy, Perseverance
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Bloomsbury
- Publication date: February 28, 2023
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 7 - 13
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: February 24, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
Touching tale of girl's summer with brother, family secrets.
Bridge to Terabithia
Honest, moving story of friendship and loss.
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Attention to detail makes adventure satisfying.
For kids who love coming-of-age books and family stories
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