I was interested to check out Kevin Henkes' new chapter book because I find his picture books absolutely delightful and have used them in class as teaching aides. I mean, seriously -- how can you not love Chrysanthemum and Lilly? So when NetGalley offered the chance to read it, I scooped up the opportunity.
Junonia begins when 9-year-old Alice arrives with her family in Florida for their yearly vacation, and she is full of grand expectations. This is a special trip, as she will turn 10 and is looking forward to spending this important birthday with all the familiar people and places that Florida brings.
Unfortunately, things become very unfamiliar right away. Alice considers her Florida friends to be her extended family. When she finds out some of them won't be staying in the seaside cottages with her family this year, she is crushed. With some of the cottages empty, Alice knows there will be new and possibly unwanted faces on the beach this year.
The story follows Alice as she struggles to find a balance between her selfish desires and a want to make good choices in the face of the many disappointments this vacation brings. The information about native Florida birds and seashells will appeal to my fact-loving students, and the short chapters and relative brevity of the book (only 88 pages long!) will appeal to my struggling readers. I can see children between the ages of 8 and 10 enjoying this coming-of-age novel.