cover image Summer of the Gypsy Moths

Summer of the Gypsy Moths

Sara Pennypacker. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $15.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-196420-6

Two dissimilar girls forge a genuine friendship under strenuous circumstances in Pennypacker’s memorable, tense novel. The story unfolds in the fresh, credible voice of 11-year-old Stella, who’s been taken from her unstable single mother and sent to live with her great-aunt Louise, also caregiver to an orphaned foster child named Angel. The girls barely speak to each other until Louise unexpectedly dies and, fearing they’ll be placed in another foster home, they bury her body in the garden and try to hide that she has died. Throughout, Pennypacker (the Clementine series) skillfully meshes the poignant and the comedic. Identifying with Louise’s blueberry bushes (“I knew how it felt when the one person tending you disappeared”), Stella vows to save them from lethal gypsy moths. Simul-taneously becoming self-sufficient and dependent on one another, Stella and Angel bond as they take over Louise’s housecleaning job and try to stave off starvation. Beautifully evoked, the novel’s Cape Cod setting plays a focal role in this richly layered tale of loss, resiliency, and belonging. Ages 8–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)