Review of the Week : Moonpenny Island

moonpenny islandSpringstubb, Tricia. Moonpenny Island. Gilbert Ford, Illus. Fiction. Balzer & Bray, 02/2015. 292p. $16.99. 978-0-06-211293-4. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-6.

Set on Moonpenny Island, “a dot, a titch, a pinch” in Lake Erie, this tale of friendship, fossils, and forgiveness is exquisitely written and wonderfully insightful. Flor and Sylvie are “each other’s perfect friend” and have always been completely transparent to each other. But when Sylvie announces that she is going to school on the mainland and will live there with her aunt and uncle, it becomes clear that there are things she hasn’t shared with Flor. Told in the present tense, the third-person narrator shows both affection and acuity towards Flor. Connected themes of evolution and vision weave through the book and are embodied in a visiting geologist, Dr. Fife, and his daughter, Jasper, and through the trilobites they find on the island. Springstubb (What Happened on Fox Street, 2010) brings these two strands explicitly, but not-heavy-handedly, to Flor’s situation: She must change and adapt because “time’s not supposed to stand still…it’s supposed to march on;” and she begins to understand “the ways of the heart” only when she grasps the difference between looking and really seeing. This superb coming- of-age novel, where not a word is wasted, shows “life at its most glorious, unpredictable best!” and will appeal to readers on the cusp of adolescence themselves.

Hayley Beale, San Francisco Univ High School

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