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Tracing Stars

Tracing Stars

5.0 5
by Erin E. Moulton

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A charming novel about sisterhood, self-identity, and friendship from the author of Flutter

Indie Lee Chickory knows she's not as cool as her older sister Bebe. Bebe has more friends, for one. And no one tells Bebe she's a fish freak, for two. So when Indie accidentally brings her pet lobster to school, makes a scene, loses him in the ocean and embarrasses


A charming novel about sisterhood, self-identity, and friendship from the author of Flutter

Indie Lee Chickory knows she's not as cool as her older sister Bebe. Bebe has more friends, for one. And no one tells Bebe she's a fish freak, for two. So when Indie accidentally brings her pet lobster to school, makes a scene, loses him in the ocean and embarrasses Bebe worse than usual, she makes a wish on a star to become a better Chickory. She tries to do this by joining the stage crew of the community's theater production, The Sound of Music. (Bebe has a starring role.) But Bebe is worried that Indie will embarrass her again, so she gives her a makeover and tells her who she should be friends with. That means Owen is out. But he's fun and smart, so Indie keeps her friendship with him a secret. At night, Indie and Owen rebuild a tree house into a ship in the sky to catch Indie's pet lobster. But during the day, Indie has to hide her friendship with Owen.

When things come to a head, Indie realizes that being true to yourself is more important than being cool. But what's even more surprising is that Bebe realizes it, too.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
«“[A] timeless story. . . . Readers won’t soon forget Miss Indie Lee Chickory.”—Booklist, starred review  «“A heartfelt, memorable story.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review “Explores themes of self-discovery and friendship.”—School Library Journal
Booklist (starred review)
This timeless story perfectly captures the growth that summer affords kids when, after endless days and nights, they emerge truer versions of themselves. Readers won’t soon forget Miss Indie Lee Chickory.
The Horn Book
Moulton’s sensitivity to her characters’ emotions extends the tale’s mood and setting. The sea and the stars, ever-present yet always in motion, influence the characters’ actions while reflecting the story’s dynamics. Indie ends the book more willing than she had been to embrace change but also with a feeling of security that comes from getting to know yourself.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Set in a Maine coastal town, this offbeat summer story ably explores themes of self-discovery and friendship. Impetuous Indie Lee Chickory, whose family owns Chickory and Chips Famous Fishery, can mimic any kind of fish face, earning her the nickname "Fish freak." Her sister Bebe used to love making fish faces as well, and she and Indie would trace "their" constellation, Pisces, and make wishes. But now Bebe finds her younger sister's antics embarrassing. On the last day of fifth grade, Indie's beloved pet, a rare golden lobster named The Lobster Monty Cola, crawls into her school backpack and in the ensuing havoc escapes back to the ocean. A distraught Indie is determined to find Monty while her fashionable sister is equally determined to make over the reluctant Indie into a version of herself. Enter Owen, a bit of an outsider himself, who befriends Indie, and with his scientific brain helps to orchestrate a lobster rescue mission, including a hilarious nighttime escapade involving a borrowed golf cart. The writing, replete with sea and fish images, can be clunky, but Indie's development is moving-especially when she stands up for Owen and what she believes in after a cruel prank. The story is set against the backdrop of a summer production of The Sound of Music, and the characters, even secondary ones, and the sibling dynamics are believable.—Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Most kids can pucker up a fish face, but Indie Lee Chickory can make specific ones like wounded mackerel, flat haddock and trout pout, earning her the label of fish freak of Plumtown. When her Coke-loving pet golden lobster (yes, they exist, one in 30 million) escapes into the ocean, recovering Lobster Monty Cola becomes the crux (and crustacean) of the story. With the help of oddball loser Owen, whose father shipped him out for the summer to his aunt, who builds sets for the town musical, she aims to get Monty back. The two hoist the front and back ends of a splintered rowboat up into a tree-house platform to rebuild it so they can scout for Monty's return. Their efforts are complicated by the love/hate interaction between Indie and her older sister Bebe (who's in the play), an overzealous police officer, shooting stars and the constellation Pisces, Owen's Book of Logic and Reason: Observation Log IV, peer pressure and a cast of community characters in this tourist fishing town. The seaside setting is awash with details--theatre terms, fish names, Indie's Carhartt pants--that define the community and Indie's family in it and also salt the action. This improbable plot and spunky protagonist are appealing bait for a heartfelt, memorable story. (Fiction. 8-13)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.58(h) x 0.70(d)
740L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

I drop low in the seat and look out the bus window. We pass Pa’s shop, Chickory and Chips Famous Fishery. I wave to the wooden pirate, Barnacle Briggs, who is always out front holding the shop sign. We zip on past and turn right onto Blue Jay Crossing. I hold my backpack on my lap. It shifts back and forth as the bus jostles over the bumpy road.

It’s the last day of school. The last day of fifth grade and I’m dying for it to be over. I make a fish face in the window as we pass the harbor where Pa’s boat, the Mary Grace, usually sits. The spot is empty ’cause he’s already out making his rounds. Pa is the best fisherman in all of Plumtown and brings in the most lobsters. But that’s not all. He dredges for mussels and also catches hake, fluke, flounder, monkfish, whiting, ocean perch, pollack, and sometimes wolffish. Wolffish is the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen, but it tastes all right if you ask me. I make the face of a wolffish in the window, pulling my mouth down into a big line from one side of my chin to the other. I pop my eyes way out and pull my eyebrows down into the middle the best I can and I think it’s a pretty great wolffish grin. Real menacing and gross.

“Indie.” I look away from my reflection and over to my older sister, Bebe, in the seat across from me. “Stop it,” she says out of the corner of her mouth. She doesn’t like it when I make fish faces anymore, even though she used to love it. Now she’s too old and mature for that sort of thing, and whenever I do it, she pretty much pretends she doesn’t know me.

I throw on a trout pout because that’s the one she used to giggle at the most, but this time she groans and looks out her window.

My backpack almost slides off my lap and I grab at it. Then the bus squeals to a stop and a whole bunch of kids get on at The Manors. That’s the cul-de-sac where all the rich people live. Mom says you don’t move to Plumtown unless you’re rich or you’re a hard worker. That’s the way it goes. We’re in the hard-worker part. I make sure to scrunch way over in case any of the fancy kids want to have a seat, but as usual, I can spread out, ’cause three kids all cram into the seat in front of me and one sits down right next to Bebe and they start talking like they’re best pals.

We go around and take a right onto Main Street, and as the breeze blows in from the open window in the seat in front of me, I can smell the mix of sugar and salt from Sandy’s Saltwater Candies. I basically start drooling thinking of that delicious blue raspberry flavor. I lick my lips and consider walking home today ’cause it’s about that time of year where Mrs. Callypso will be standing out with free samples. When the bus stops again, I stay scrunched over, but Lynn and June, who get on at the last stop, go by my seat and make crinkling faces.

“You stink, Indie,” June says.

I can see Bebe roll her eyes across the way.

“Sorry,” I say. I smell my fingers, wondering if they stink of herring from feeding The Lobster Monty Cola this morning. Herring is one of his favorite snacks. He also likes fish heads that have been sitting out for a while, and my hand might have brushed past that, too. But I don’t mind if it stinks a little. The Lobster Monty Cola is my best pal besides Bebe. And even a better pal now that Bebe got all perfect and can’t stand me anymore. Monty’s not some ordinary crustacean; he’s a golden lobster. Pa says you come across one golden lobster in every 30 million lobsters you trap. And he got Monty in a real amazing catch. Now Monty lives in a saltwater pool outside my window, and if he wants some herring and some fish heads, well, that’s what he is going to get.

“Oh, seriously,” Lynn says. As she passes, she pulls her shirt up over her nose. I push my hand underneath my leg, hoping that will help bury the smell.

June and Lynn sit down together over in the last seat. It’s really a half seat, meant for one person, but that’s where they sit. I pretend like that doesn’t bother me a bit. I hum a little and look out the window and watch the joggers go up and down the boardwalk. A minute later, the brakes squeak and we’re in front of Plumtown Elementary.

“Happy last day!” Mrs. McKowski says as she opens the door. Mrs. McKowski is one of the people in the hard-worker portion, too. She has driven the bus since I started in kindergarten. I swing my backpack on and stand up to get off. Every time I try to get into the line, someone else gets there first, so I wait until the very last kid has gone, then I go, too.

“See you at pickup, Indie,” Mrs. McKowski says.

“Bye, Mrs. McKowski.” I walk in past the giant sailor sculptures and trot along behind Bebe into Mr. Lemur’s class.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

• “This improbable plot and spunky protagonist are appealing bait for a heartfelt, memorable story.” –Kirkus Reviews *STARRED*

• “This timeless story perfectly captures the growth that summer affords kids when, after endless days and nights, they emerge truer versions of themselves.” –Booklist *STARRED*
“Moulton’s sensitivity to her characters’ emotions extends this quiet tale’s mood and setting. (8–11 years)” –The Horn Book

Meet the Author

Erin E. Moulton has worked with children in libraries, schools and theaters. She's also the founder of the Kinship Writings Association. Erin graduated from the Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and studied there with Kathi Appelt.

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Tracing Stars 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cant wait to read it but i read her oyher book (flutter)and i creid it was so good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book can suck you right in! It's fantastic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It really should. This is one of the best books that I have read so far this year. Tracing Stars has a great plot, and is touching. Not quite romance or adventure,this is a awesome story that everyone should read.It might include some half-inappropriate contents,parents (just thought that you should know), but overall it was actually a very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago