cover image The Firefly Summer

The Firefly Summer

Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster, $18.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-534493-35-3

When a tween accepts an invitation to stay with her estranged maternal grandparents in the Poconos, she finds a large and lively extended family, and a treasure map, in this captivating mystery, a middle grade debut from Matson (Take Me Home Tonight). Eager to hear stories about her mom, who died when she was three, only child Ryanna Stuart nervously agrees when the Van Camps invite her to stay for the summer at their inoperative summer property, Camp Van Camp, which is in danger of being razed by a neighbor. As the mystery-loving 11-year-old settles into the summer’s rhythms, she grows closer to her newfound family, teaming up with cousins her age to follow marginalia once scribbled by her mother in a mystery book and to locate a treasure map that they hope will save the camp. Matson’s vibrant setting, peopled with an easygoing extended family that encourages free play, is irresistibly rendered, while Ryanna’s quest to learn more about her mother, as well as her father’s falling out with the family, imbues the carefully plotted central mystery with emotional resonance. Ryanna and her dad are white; intersectional diversity is present in the extended family. Ages 8–12. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Jr./Folio Literary. (May)