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  • Posted August 17, 2011

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    A Book for Keeps

    Every once in a while a book comes along that grown ups want in their library, 'though it's meant for children. "Junonia" is just such a book. It's meant for children ages 9-12, but while they may appreciate it...parents will, too. This special little book is inviting from the cover. A small girl's back calls us back to days when we were a child; watching the summer water, looking for adventure, finding special shells, spying birds and studying what they're doing, discovering sea creatures, and burning in the sun... Like Alice of "Junonia" we were expecting adventure and magical things to happen, weren't we? "Junonia" is a beautifully illustrated book inside and out. This small volume reminds me of a book I've treasured all my adult life, and have given as a gift to many friends, "A Gift From the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. While Mrs. Lindbergh's book is written from the perspective of a woman who's seeking solitude, peace of heart and wisdom that comes in the journey, Mr. Henkes brings us the same such journey from a child's heart. His addition of Alice's birthday symbolizes this journey, too. The secrets of a child's heart is one of the rare beauties of Mr. Henkes's book. He shines in his ability to understand the longings and joys of a little girl's feelings. His ability to tranlate those intimate emotions is a mark of his depth of sensitivity and talent. This is an unusually sweet and heartfelt book. I recommend "Junonia" to those who would like to give a special gift to grandchildren, family and friends. I recommend it as a gift for yourself. It would be a beautiful gift for a friend in need of comfort. It's a wonderful little book to keep close in the wintery days when we forget how warm and joyful sun and summer can the search for a special shell can bring a sort of joy to our hearts no matter what age we are.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2012

    Alice is an only child that visits the beach in Florida every ye

    Alice is an only child that visits the beach in Florida every year with her mother and father. The plot is simple and does not have a lot of action. The major events in the story are Alice's 10th birthday, Alice's continuous search for a junonia seashell and other unique shells, and her encounters with the neighbors in the cottages close to her that she reunites with every year. Alice is an only child and spends most of her time with adults. When her mom's best friend brings her new boyfriend and his 5 year old troubled daughter, Alice seems to face issues of jealousy, anger, resentment, and irritation. Henkes does a wonderful job describing the confusing emotions of an adolescent child and how little situations can be misinterpreted or blown out of proportion. Henkes also does a great job showing the feelings of a child who is struggling with their appearance. I would recommend this chapter book for third or fourth grade readers. It is a quick read with short chapters and has great descriptive words for the beautiful beach setting. I would recommend this to a child who is an only child, someone struggling with confidence and needing some affirmation or someone who loves the beach scene.
    The book might be too calm or boring at times to a reader who is interested in a lot of mystery or drama.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2012

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    charmingly contemplative and at times effervescent

    Alice Rice knows everything about her family's trip to Florida this year will be different. She is going to be ten--double digits--and that is a very important change. Maybe she'll even find a rare Junonia seashell during their trip. After all, when you turn ten, anything is possible.

    But as old friends fail to arrive and new visitors run the risk of ruining everything, Alice starts to wonder if her tenth birthday will be memorable for all of the wrong reasons in Junonia (2011) by Kevin Henkes.

    With end papers and chapter caps illustrated by Henkes, the book brings Alice's trip and her story to life. With his meditative, deliberate writing Henkes has created a story that perfectly captures the excitement and, yes, sometimes the sadness that comes with being a young child.

    Junonia is a subtle, understated book. Focusing more on vignettes of Alice's trip than on a singular plot, the book might not appeal to children looking for action or page-turning excitement. Readers who do stick with the story will be rewarded with a charmingly contemplative and at times effervescent book.

    Possible Pairings: Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall, Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, Fashion Kitty by Charise Mericle Harper

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013



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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Highly Recommended A great read for young females!

    JUNONIA is about a young girl named Alice. Every year during the month of February Alice and her parents take a trip to Sanibel Island for their family vacation. Alice really enjoys this trip. She always celebrates her birthday and she sees all the same people. Alice is a only child, and has no extended relatives of her own. She considers these special people, Aunt Kate, Heather Blair the artist, the Wishmeier's and their three grandchildren and Mr. Barten, her extended family.
    Alice has some disappointments during her trip that she has to overcome. Her Aunt Kate has a new boyfriend and he brings along his six year old daughter, Mallory. Mallory is tough to handle, she is going through things in her own life and can be hard to be around. The Wishmeier's grandchildren are too busy with school and cannot come this year and the artist Helen Blair is stuck in a snow storm.
    The story is a warm story that is about Alice and how she adopts to change and how it is not always easy. She also learns to befriend a new friend. I know that this is the first novel for young readers that Kevin Henkes wrote. He usually writes well known picture books for children. The story flows from one chapter to the next. His writing is very descriptive. The book reminds me of something that I would take to the beach to read. Each chapter starts out with a delicate picture of what the chapter is about.
    The book celebrates a young girl who is patient, kind and endures her friendships. The book is very sweet in many ways and I would recommend any young female to read it.

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  • Posted May 20, 2011

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    Great beach read for kids!

    The ocean has always been a place of solace for me, water baby that I am. The same can be said for a young girl named Alice, whose family goes to a beach house in Florida every winter. Each year, Alice celebrates her birthday while on vacation, and this year is especially special: She's turning ten years old, double-digits! She's excited beyond belief, but that emotion quickly tapers off as she realizes that this year won't be the same as previous ones. First, some older kids can no longer come on vacation due to a heightened course load at school, then her favorite artist gets stranded due to a snow storm. To top it all off, her favorite aunt shows up-but with her new boyfriend and his five-year-old brat, Mallory. This will definitely be a summer for Alice to remember, but will those memories be good ones or tarnish her love of a place she's always loved?

    Kevin Henkes has a beautiful way of writing. His sentences are so precious, so descriptive, that I just wanted to scoop them up and let them sit on my tongue to melt like drops of sugar. He's good at creating a picture with words that evokes the perfect image in the mind's eye. He's best-known for his picture books, especially KITTEN'S FIRST FULL MOON, which won the Caldecott in 2005, along with several other prizes. His art in JUNONIA is whimsical and light; in the finished product, the illustration that begins each chapter reminds me of a pen-and-ink drawing, and each image is bursting with images of a beach vacation.

    The heart of JUNONIA is very delicate. There isn't a lot of action in this short middle-grade novel. Alice is very introspective for a girl her age, which some readers in the 7 - 12 demographic might have trouble relating to. They might get bored and put the novel down. At the same time, the book has a soothing quality to it destined to appeal to readers who get scared by a lot of big events and not knowing what comes next. On top of that, Henkes sneaks a powerful lesson into the pages of his book about the power of sharing, as well as the way everything changes, but not always in a bad way. Alice does a lot of growing up in this book, which ends on just the right note.

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  • Posted March 9, 2011

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    Kevin Henkes delivers another fun, engaging and heartwarming book about friendship and independence!

    Junonia introduces us to nine-year-old Alice Rice at the very start of her Florida vacation with her parents Tom and Pam. Alice is an only child and she longs for a larger family. Her parents were both only children and all her four grandparents are dead. Alice considers the neighbors that she spends summers with to be her extended family - the artist Helen Blair, her mother's college friend Kate, the "ancient Mr. Barden," the Wishmeiers and their three grandchildren.

    The summer brings Alice some disappointments - the Wishmeier grandchildren have started high school and are too busy to travel to Florida, Helen Blair is caught in a snowstorm and instead gives up her cottage. The "replacement neighbors" are Kate's new boyfriend Ted and his daughter Mallory. Alice had been looking forward to spending alone time with Kate - so six-year-old Mallory is a let down.

    Mallory is even less fun in person. She's shy, irritating, and emotional - she misses her mother deeply. As Alice goes beyond the initial irritation and befriends Mallory, the book has magic moments.

    Overall, Junonia is a heartwarming and encouraging story for young readers. I've always loved Kevin Henkes's illustrated books for children because of his mix of humor and warmth. The early books encourage both personality and kindness in children and Junonia continues this underlying sensibility. A chapter book with many enjoyable sections: searching for sea shells, walks on the beach, special late night meals, and an unforgettable tenth birthday party. Junonia is also a story that celebrates patience, friendship, and kindness - something to be enjoyed and shared.

    ISBN-10: 0061964174 - Hardcover
    Publisher: Greenwillow Books (May 24, 2011), 192 pages.
    Review copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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