Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Kevin Henkes
Publisher: Greenwillow Books; First Edition edition
Alice and her family spend a week every winter at a beach in Florida. Alice will soon be turning ten. The tenth birthday is extra special to her because it will be her first two digit year. This makes her especially thoughtful about the joys and disappointments of this year's family trip. She thinks of the winter beach cabin inhabitants as extended family and this year the family is changing. Alice is looking for her favorite rare shell, a junonia, but what she finds within her heart goes much deeper than the shell itself.
This is a beautiful book, both peaceful and rejuvenating. There is intense emotion in Alice's heart that is described with tender thought and an intensity that manages to capture the complexity of a maturing young girl. The ocean has meaning, the familiar things provide context, the new things engage her focus. Her expectations shift and grow. She feels both happiness and pain with depth of feeling that is enjoyable and that many will strongly relate to. This would be an amazing beach blanket book, but it is an amazing book any time, anywhere.