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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Henkes’

Toddlers often squeal upon first seeing the ocean, jumping up and down as the tide tickles their toes. Older kids charge forward into the waves with a whoop. But every now and then, a little girl stands on the shoreline with arms outstretched, as if to embrace the sweep of sky and water. Her  expression is one of awe and outright joy.

That would be  Alice Rice, the beguiling heroine of Kevin Henkes’ Junonia (HarperCollins Children’s Books), a sweet and gentle story  set on Sanibel Island.

An only child  growing up in Wisconsin, Alice looks forward every year to the winter week when she returns with her parents to the beach cottage called Scallop. Because she  will turn 10 while at the beach, Alice has high expectations as they cross the  bridge to the island and spot the first pelican.

“The bird was so  odd and silly looking, a mysterious, mesmerizing wonder. Alice reached out,  pressing her palms flat against the half-opened window. She’d seen pelicans  before, every year that she had been here, but when you see something only once  a year it’s always new, as if you’re seeing it for the first time.’’

But some things  have changed at Sanibel this year. Not all of the usual neighbors are on hand,  and Alice’s beloved “Aunt Kate’’ – her mother’s college roommate — has decided  to stay in the cottage next door because she is bringing her new boyfriend and  his 6-year-old daughter Mallory. Alice reluctantly makes friends with the  younger child,  taking her shelling and  patiently identifying their discoveries. Alice hopes this will be the year she  at last finds the rare junonia shell – now that would be a real birthday  present.

But Mallory  disrupts Alice’s birthday party, and Alice experiences a jumble of emotions as  she turns 10. She is growing up, and it’s not quite what she expected.

Henkes, who has  written and illustrated many best-selling picture books (Chrysanthemum, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse) as well as the  award-winning Olive’s Ocean for older  readers, writes lyrically of natural wonders and childhood feelings. He finds  the extraordinary in the ordinary.

The deceptively simple illustrations that begin each chapter  complement Alice’s small adventures on Sanibel, where Henkes and his family vacation annually. He says it is a special place. And Junonia is a special book.

Open Book: I read a digital copy of Kevin Henkes’ Junonia (HarperCollins Children’s Books) through NetGalley. It brought back a lot of memories of childhood trips to the beach,

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