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4.2 9
by Kevin Henkes

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Returning to the beach cottage—a cottage named Scallop—where she has always celebrated her birthday is a special occasion for Alice Rice.

Who will see the first dolphin this time? The first pelican? What will have changed? Stayed the same? And will this be the year she finally finds a junonia shell?

Alice's friends are all returning, too. And she's


Returning to the beach cottage—a cottage named Scallop—where she has always celebrated her birthday is a special occasion for Alice Rice.

Who will see the first dolphin this time? The first pelican? What will have changed? Stayed the same? And will this be the year she finally finds a junonia shell?

Alice's friends are all returning, too. And she's certain her parents have the best party planned for her. Alice can't wait. If Alice is lucky, everything will be absolutely perfect. Will Alice be lucky?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this introspective story about a child's search for a rare shell, Henkes (Bird Lake Moon) again displays his ability to find profound meaning in ordinary events. Every year Alice Rice and her parents take a trip to Florida's Sanibel Island, but this year things are different. Some of the people Alice is looking forward to seeing are missing, and the neighboring cabin usually rented to a fun artist from New York is now occupied by a friend of Alice's mother, her new boyfriend, and his moody and disruptive six-year-old daughter. Swallowing her disappointment, Alice still believes that her vacation will be a success if only she can find the rare shell she most covets, the junonia ("After all, she was going to be ten. Finding a junonia would be the perfect gift"). Like her disappointments, Alice's discoveries aren't what she expects, but her understanding of people—both old friends and new acquaintances—deepens during the process. Readers will empathize with Alice's frustrations and relish her moments of joy. Images of the beach and the moving, meaningful interactions between characters will linger with readers. Ages 8–12. (June)
"With tender observations and sensory details, Henkes creates a memorable young individual whose arcadian growing up is authentic and pitch-perfect."
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Alice Rice's family stayed in the same cottage and saw the same people every year on their annual February vacation to Sanibel Island, Florida. Alice hoped this would be the best year ever, for she would be celebrating her tenth birthday. It is a special birthday—two digits. She was looking forward to seeing her once-a-year friends and hoped to find a rare and hard-to-find seashell, a junonia. Upon her arrival, Alice learns that Helen Blair, who always stayed in the cottage next door, is snowed in back in NYC, the Wishmeiers' grandchildren had too much schoolwork and couldn't come visit this year and her mother's friend Kate, who always stayed in the Rice's cottage, would be staying in Helen's cottage with a new boyfriend and his daughter, Mallory. It was bad enough that Alice had to share Kate. What was worse, however, was Mallory's behavior. When one of her gelato spoons is missing after the party, Alice accuses Mallory of stealing it. Henkes' secondary characters are always so well drawn, and this is no exception. Alice's parents are the parents all children would like to have: loving, supportive, and steady. Alice learns some important life lessons. Situations change for people, often beyond their control, and it is important to make the best of it. As we mature, we learn that nothing stays the same forever. Although Alice did find a junonia seashell, it was not the way she expected it would be, and she learns that is okay, too. The blue waterscape scene on the endpapers draws the reader into the book. The blue ink provides continuity through the book, used for the drawings of the seashells and the illustrations at the beginning of the chapters. Each picture gives the reader a preview of what is in the chapter. Both the storyline and the characters are rich with depth. It is a lovely book for a child who is having a very special, double-digit birthday. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
Kirkus Reviews

Every year, Alice celebrates her birthday week in February with her parents in a cottage on the beach in Sanibel, far from her snowy Wisconsin home.

This year, as she turns 10, the expected holiday company varies just enough to feel odd and challenging: The neighboring Wishmeiers' grandchildren didn't come; another neighbor is snowbound in New York; "aunt" Kate arrives with a new boyfriend and his six-year-old daughter in tow. Alice's longed-for find, a prized junonia mollusk shell, never quite materializes as expected. Henkes' deceptively economical language is rich and complex, cognizant of the ways that the world of adults reveals itself to children, aware of the emotional weight of objects. The third-person narration offers a sense of depth and story beyond the borders of the novel itself, providing distance enough for readers to draw their own conclusions. The author's own drawings grace the cover and chapter openings; the overall book design is elegant and supremely comfortable for middle-grade readers. An only child surrounded by affection, routine and attention, Alice has the space to realize that life can be an adventure experienced independently, even while held closely by those one loves.

Very few writers have such a keen understanding of the emotional lives of children; here Henkes is at the top of his game. (Fiction. 8-12)

Ann M. Martin
Henkes perfectly captures Alice's angst as she spins between the little-girlhood she's leaving behind and the adolescence that looms in front of her, and he expertly reveals introspective Alice's musings. Henkes knows that Alice, like many girls her age, carries plenty of things in her mind—and her heart—that she seldom speaks of. She mulls them over privately, and in Henkes's hands, eloquently.
—The New York Times
Mary Quattlebaum
Many contemporary kids' novels are so packed with external action that they offer few glimpses of the quieter but no less dramatic process of individuation, of a child becoming an "I"…Henkes carefully attends to such moments, grounding them in small, sensuous details…As finely shaded as its titular shell, this novel engages the mind and heart.
—The Washington Post
Booklist (starred review)
“With tender observations and sensory details, Henkes creates a memorable young individual whose arcadian growing up is authentic and pitch-perfect.”
The Horn Book
“Alice balances between familiarity and novelty, coziness and independence, self-centeredness and altruism—the balance beam of turning ten. . . . A fully realized, respectful portrait of a childhood milestone.”
New York Times
“Henkes knows that Alice, like many girls her age, carries plenty of things in her mind—and her heart—that she seldom speaks of. She mulls them over privately, and in Henkes’s hands, eloquently.”
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Alice is planning to celebrate her 10th birthday on her family's annual vacation to Sanibel Island, Florida. This year, her mother's friend is coming with her boyfriend and her six-year-old daughter Mallory who is troubled and impetuous. Stina Nielsen beautifully narrates Kevin Henkes's book (Greenwillow, 2011). She utilizes a variety of vocal inflections and perfectly conveys the variety of adolescent emotions Alice experiences—from the euphoric excitement and anticipation she feels as her family arrives at their rental cottage to the bitter disappointment she experiences upon learning some of the other annual vacationers won't be present this year to her quest for the elusive junonia shell. Listeners will feel that they are walking alongside Alice on her journey.—Cathie Bashaw Morton, Millbrook Central School District, NY

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.10(d)
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Kevin Henkes is the author of Sun & Spoon, Bird Lake Moon, and the Newbery Honor Book Olive's Ocean. He also writes and illustrates picture books, and among his many titles are the national bestsellers My Garden, Old Bear, A Good Day, and Kitten's First Full Moon, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal. Mr. Henkes is also the creator of a series of books starring mouse characters, including Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Lilly's Big Day, Wemberly Worried, Chrysanthemum, and Owen, for which he was awarded a Caldecott Honor.

Kevin Henkes lives with his family in Madison, Wisconsin.

Brief Biography

Madison, Wisconsin
Date of Birth:
November 27, 1960
Place of Birth:
Racine, Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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Junonia 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Humbee More than 1 year ago
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 be...how the search for a special shell can bring a sort of joy to our hearts no matter what age we are.
kmwalk3 More than 1 year ago
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.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CMBowman More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bonnie_W More than 1 year ago
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.
gl More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago