April 12, 2016

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Book Vine: A Handful of Stars

I will never forget the year that Cynthia Lord came to our local SCBWI conference. She is lovely person (we had some great conversations about sensory processing issues), but what I remember most is this:

Cindy, author of RULES and TOUCH BLUE, reverently took out her Newbery Honor Medal ... and let us all rub it for good luck.

RULES had just come out back then. Cynthia Lord has gone on to write the HOT ROD HAMSTER and SHELTER PET SQUAD series.

Her latest novel is A HANDFUL OF STARS. This contemporary middle grade book launches on May 26.

I was lucky enough to be included in Cindy's book vine. A group of authors are reading the ARC, blogging about A HANDFUL OF STARS, and mailing the book on to the next fan/blogger.

Read about it at Cynthia Lord's website.
Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

A Handful of Stars is set during a harvesting season among the blueberry barrens of coastal Maine. Small-town veteran Lily, and Salma, a Hispanic migrant worker, forge an unexpected friendship.

For me, this was a six flag (I use small Post-It flags to mark my favorite parts) and multiple-tissue book.

The plot kicks off when Lily's blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar in the blueberry barrens. A girl Lily's age who is working alongside her family  helps the old dog to safety. Lily and Salma's budding friendship, and Lily's longing to help Lucky see again, form the focus of the story. A HANDFUL OF STARS is a gentle book, appropriate for younger middle grade readers. It is a great end-of-year or summer read for your third graders and up.

Who will like it?
  • Animal lovers
  • Artists (both Lily and her friend Salma paint bee houses in the book)
  • Children who are on the fence between caring and not caring about clothes, appearances, and crushes.

What will readers learn about?
  • Migrant workers.
  • Maine.
  • Blueberries.
  • Small town beauty pageants and small town prejudices.
  • Navigating new friendships and nurturing old ones.
Robert Frost's long poem "Blueberries" is mentioned in A HANDFUL OF STARS (the stars are a reference to the bluberries' star-shaped blossom-end). Here is the opening of that poem, which is filled with such wonderful dialogue:

by Robert Frost
“You ought to have seen what I saw on my way  
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day:  
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,  
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum  
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!          
And all ripe together, not some of them green  
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!”  
Read the rest at Poets.Org
And here is one of my favorite quotes from A HANDFUL OF STARS. Lily is describing Salma's artwork, but she could be describing one of the reasons that I love poetry.
"Maybe when we see things all the time, we stop really looking at them. And it takes an artist, someone who can look past the ordinariness, to remind us how special they really are."
(For an example of this idea at work in a poem, look at Pablo Neruda's "Ode to My Socks.")
Last, I would like to thank to Cindy Lord for sharing a link to her favorite blueberry enchilada recipe! This is the kind of book research I aspire to do someday.
Another recipe:
Apple Blueberry Enchiladas
from Winter Wheat.

1 comment:

Tabatha said...

Enjoyed this post from top to bottom! I know just the child who would enjoy this book.