Starfish Summer

Ona Gritz-Gilbert, Author, Ona Gritz, Author, Yong Chen, Illustrator HarperCollins $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-06-027193-0
Gritz-Gilbert's quiet, languidly paced first novel takes place in a small beach community, where New Yorker Amy spends the summer with her great-aunt Jenny, who makes dolls from socks and smells ""like tangerines and yellowed books."" Though Amy is determined to shake her ""Mama's girl"" image and make new friends, she's homesick for her overprotective mother and greatly misses ""not just the feel of Mom's hugs but their smell, like a loaf of oatmeal bread baking."" Crystal, the girl next door who feels abandoned by her most recent close friend, exacerbates matters when she rebuffs Amy's attempts to get to know her, remaining ""as sharp and cold as the salt water when you first step in."" Amy's relationship with a kind, elderly blind man who shows remarkable insight into Amy's feelings provides some warm moments in the narrative. Yet the standoff between the girls grows tiresome, as does the author's heavy-handed, often flowery similes and imagery (e.g., Crystal's voice ""made Amy think of lacy, old fashioned dresses""). Even the most poetic-minded young readers may find this tale a bit old-fashioned. Ages 7-10. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
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