Moonpenny is a tiny island in a great lake. When the summer people leave and the ferries stop running, just the tried-and-true islanders are left behind. Flor and her best friend, Sylvie, are the only eleven-year-olds for miles and miles. But come the end of summer, unthinkable things begin to happen. Sylvie is suddenly, mysteriously whisked away to school on the mainland. Flor’s mother leaves to take care of Flor’s sick grandmother and doesn’t come back. Her big sister has a secret, and Flor fears it’s a dangerous one.(goodreads)
Flor lives on Moonpenny Island year round with her parents, older sister Cecilia and younger brother Thomas. She and her best friend Sylvie are inseparable. During the summer months, the island is filled with visitors and new people. One such visitor to the island is an unusual girl named Jasper. She and her geologist father are on the island in search of prehistoric trilobites. But suddenly at the start of sixth grade, Flor is faced with unexpected changes to her family and friendship. Syvlie is sent away to live with relatives on the mainland to attend school there, Flor's mother leaves to take care of her grandmother wondering if she will come back and her sister begins to act strangely giving Flor the feeling she is keeping something from her. As Flor's world is suddenly crashing down on her, she discovers her tiny island holds many truths she was not aware of.
One of my favorite authors has once again, beautifully written another heart warming, coming-of-age story for young readers. From the summer island descriptions to each of the many different characters, I found the story engaging and believable. After Sylvie is unexpectedly sent away for no apparent reason, this abrupt change strains their friendship like many girls can go through when a friend moves away. The characters of Jasper and her father Dr. Fife were a subtle but important part to Flor's insight and character development. She is faced with many issues in her young life. Her parents argue and her mother suddenly leaves to take care of a relative with Flor not knowing when or if she is coming back. Her sister is resorting to sneaking around, lying and is holding a secret from Flor. There is even a mention of alcoholism when she learns of another secret her friend holds that she never realized was happening all along. The changes she faces gives her uncertainty but she learns that adapting and going along with those changes is how you grow. It is a warm and gentle realistic story about friendships, family, conflict, secrets and change. The story moved along nicely offering a message to its reader about opening your eyes and seeing the things around you but it is how you see those things that will help shape you. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 9-12.~
Title: Moonpenny Island
Author: Tricia Springstubb
Pub. Date: February 2015, Balzer & Bray
Genre: realistic fiction, middle grade
Hardcover, 292 pgs.