Monday, September 10, 2012

Summer of the Gypsy Moths

Next week I'll be sharing Carin Siegfried's last post in her "Insights into Editing" series. Meanwhile, here is a review on a new book for girls. 

On the surface, Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker (Balzar & Bray, 2012), is the story of two girls who form an unlikely alliance and friendship. But dig deeper, and you’ll find  ties like, “strands of spider silk: practically invisible, maybe, but strong as steel” (p.1) which are woven throughout this middle grade novel.

Stella and Angel barely talk to one another in the small house they share with Stella’s great-aunt Louise, a caretaker for a small group of rental cottages on Cape Cod. When Louise dies suddenly the girls are forced to work together in order to survive.

The girls meet the job at hand—keeping the cottages open for the summer season—and develop trust and affection for one another.  This is shown dramatically when Stella gives Angel, who deeply fears the ocean, her first swimming lesson.
“Angel,” I said. “Take a deep breath and fell your lungs, then fall back. I’ll catch you. Fall back.”

“I can’t,” Angel said.

“You can. I’ll catch you.”

“You swear”

“I swear.”

Angel fell back and I caught her shoulders. “Now arms out and relax. You’re floating.”

Both Stella and Angel wrestle with feeling abandoned by their families and part of the book’s triumph is how they each discover a place to belong.  Since I am writing a book with the theme of an unlikely friendship between two girls, I noticed how Pennypacker expertly showed each girl using the friendship to meet their own goals.

If you read this book with your daughter or students, consider the role that the gypsy moths play (their name means “destroyer”), as well as the seagulls, blueberry bushes, and the simple acts of gardening, and cleaning.

Pennypacker brings a lot to this book; I hope you and a young reader savor it together. 


Linda A. said...

The title sounds innocent--a light read. From what you say, there's a lot going on here--a thought provoking read. Love it!

Lisa Fowler said...

Thanks Carol for this post and the inspiration! I can't wait to read this book even though I don't have a youngster to share with. Quickly- a funny story: Went to the library this week and checked out a load of middle grade reads. New librarian asked why I didn't get any books for myself! Had to laugh as I said- these ARE for me! LOVE IT!

Linda Phillips said...

Sounds like a good read, and I can see how you were reminded of the two main characters in your own WIP.

Carol Baldwin said...

Lisa-- that is a great story! Practically all of my reading is YA or MG--or Christian literature or books for research for my own WIP. I guess you can tell a lot about a person by what they read! :)

Thanks LInda, for commenting. It is a good read, maybe one you can share with your new students!

Joy said...

thanks for this post and the review of this middle grade verse novel. I've been trying to find more of the verse novels to read and this sounds like a good one. If my library doesn't have it, I'll recommend purchasing it.

Carol Baldwin said...

Joy- it's not a verse novel, but a great read! Hope you enjoy it.

Jean said...

sounds wonderful. I'll pass this along to friends with mid-grade daughters.


Kristi Butler said...

Hi Carol!
Thanks for sharing!! Melea and I will have to check this one out!!

We're still transitioning...close on the 28th, but don't move until the 6th. Ready, but savoring the moments with my parents.

Big hugs!

PS Wondering if robots are smart enough to prove themselves...on my third try.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for mastering the robot monster and posting your comment! Hope you enjoy the book!

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