by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books, on shelves May 24, 2011
ARC received at NCTE
I have just the reader to hand this book to -- she's a 10 year-old girl, a strong reader who recently came to me asking for help finding her next book. She's been devouring series books, and now she's ready to tackle a stand-alone novel.
Every year, Alice Rice and her family go to Sanibel Island in Florida for their week-long vacation from the Wisconsin winters, and every year, Alice's birthday is during their vacation. This year, she'll turn 10. Double digits. A really important birthday. But instead of everything being the way it's always been so that her birthday can be perfect, Alice has to deal with changes. A favorite cabin neighbor can't come, her mother's best college friend comes with a boyfriend and his 6 year-old daughter.
Henkes perfectly captures the in-between-ness of being 10. Alice is sometimes quite mature and other times pouty. She is starting to understand the grownups, and the little girl who is without her mother, and her own self. She is more aware of the world around her (which Henkes describes with aching beauty).
Alice is hoping to find a rare junonia shell for her collection on this trip, but even though she doesn't, she carries home a box full and a heart full of memories.
Suddenly she felt as if she were the center of everything, like the sun. She was thinking: Here I am. I have my parents. We're alone together. I will never be old. I will never die. It's right now. I'm ten.