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Summer of the Gypsy Moths Hardcover – April 24, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-Stella is living with her great-aunt Louise on Cape Cod because her mother has abrogated her maternal responsibilities. Angel, whose parents are both gone, is there as a foster child. Sharp-edged Angel and Heloise's Hints-embued Stella could not be more different, despite their shared lack of parents. They're spending the summer helping Louise run a small group of vacation cottages and wondering what will happen next. What occurs, however, is completely unexpected. Louise dies. Facing an uncertain future, Stella and Angel have to make some choices. Their first choice-to conceal the death-is a bad one. It leads to additional decisions-good and bad-that gradually unite the girls as they work to survive and begin to understand just what "family" means. Pennypacker's heart-touching book (Baltzer + Bray, 2013) features a summer in which adults play only bit parts and the girls uncover their own strengths. At times touching and suspenseful, this is an exceptional story and Jenna Lamia reads it in Stella's voice, with other characters sporting the accents of Boston and Portugal. She brings the tale to life and makes listeners truly care about Stella, Angel, and their fate.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WAα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

“A suspenseful, surprising novel of friendship and family from the creator of the popular Clementine series.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Beautifully evoked, the novel’s Cape Cod setting plays a focal role in this richly layered tale of loss, resiliency, and belonging.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Pennypacker is a Beverly Cleary-caliber girl-whisperer; she can weave a yarn both funny and touching, with all the beloved, timeworn themes at the ready: friendship, family, loyalty, loss and independence.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Pennypacker’s marvelously tactile writing animates Stella’s narration and brings both engaging, resilient, and resourceful characters to life.” (School Library Journal)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; First Edition edition (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061964204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061964206
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Intending to just page through the book, I ended up devouring it the next day.
Lynn Sprott
Two young girls find themselves in a difficult dilemma with the death of their caregiver and show great maturity in solving the problems.
Carole E. Grimsley
As a plot device, it successfully sets the girls on their own, but it's pretty disturbing.
Miss Darcy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Spoiler Alert - I am giving away every little detail about this book in this review. You have been warned.

As a librarian I'm always on the lookout for good middle grade books I can booktalk to kids. Often you don't need an exciting cover or title to sell a book to kids. Heck, sometimes you don't even need to show the book at all. Yet in the case of Sara Pennypacker's debut middle grade novel "Summer of the Gypsy Moths" I fully intend to show the cover off. There you see two happy girls on a seashore on a beautiful summer's day. What could be more idyllic? I'll show the kids the cover then start right off with, "Doesn't it look sweet? Yeah. So this is a book about two girls who bury a corpse in their backyard by themselves and don't tell anyone about it." BLAMMO! Instant interest. Never mind that the book really is a heartfelt and meaningful story or that the writing is some of the finest you will encounter this year. Dead bodies = interested readers, and if I have to sell it with a tawdry pitch then I am bloody selling it with a tawdry pitch and the devil take the details. Shh! Don't tell them it's of outstanding literary quality as well!

Convinced that her free floating mother will return to her someday soon, Stella lives with her Great-aunt Louise and Louise's foster kid Angel. The situation is tenable if not entirely comfortable. If Stella is neat to the point of fault then Angel's her 180-degree opposite. They're like oil and water, those two. That's why when Louise ups and dies on the girls they're surprised to find themselves reluctant allies in a kind of crazy scheme. Neither one of them wants to get caught up in the foster care system so maybe that's why they end up burying Louise in the backyard, running her summer cottages like nothing's wrong.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Liviania VINE VOICE on June 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Stella lives with her Great-aunt Louise in Cape Cod because her mother lost custody. Also living with Louise is Angel, a foster child who wants nothing to do with Stella. Then Louise dies and the girls have to decide: do they call the cops and go back into the system or try to survive on their own?

There's a real strain of darkness running through SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS. Some of the darkness is blatant, but some implications will be glossed over by less mature readers. Stella and Angel have not had easy lives. While neither girl was physically or sexually abused, there are still reasons they would choose not to go to foster care. Stella was neglected by her mother and at eleven is very experienced at fending for herself. And as Stella notes in the text, the two girls get rather dirty and starved as the weeks go by and none of the adults notice.

In my opinion, the darkness works. SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS reminds me of some of my favorite books as a child, including The Pinballs (Apple Paperbacks) and The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries). (And by THE BOXCAR CHILDREN I mean the first book, not the series of mysteries that follows. I like the mysteries, but they have little to nothing in common with SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS.)

Stella and Angel bond as their deception deepens and they do Louise's work as the manager of Linger Longer, a set of four vacation homes. Stella is obsessed with Hints from Heloise, which is both sad and funny in turns.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dienne TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I suppose I should start this review with a big old ***SPOILER ALERT*** because it's really impossible to say much of anything meaningful about the book without mentioning the big "secret". But it's really not a suspenseful surprise built up throughout the book and which would spoil the pleasure of the book if known in advance. Really, it's just a down-and-dirty plot device so that Ms. Pennypacker can tell the story she really wants to tell: the story of two troubled girls struggling to make it on their own. So anyway, last warning. If you've read this far and haven't turned back, here's what you'll find out by the third chapter anyway: Great Aunt Louise dies.

As part of any believable plot, that twist fails mightily. Pretty much everything related to Louise's death is so completely unrealistic and unbelievable that it's almost hard to take the book seriously. There is simply no way that a woman with two foster daughters, a job and a lifelong community could pass away and no one would know. The girls' attempt to cover up Louise's death are so phony and ridiculous that we might almost think we've gotten lost in some bad 1980s sitcom and we're watching a couple of kids trying to hide Mom's favorite vase that got broken.

For instance, the girls - Stella and Angel - decide that they should bury Louse in her beloved garden. But they have to bury her deep lest the animals dig her up. So there they are in broad daylight digging a hole just long and wide enough for a body. They've gotten about a foot down when George, the man who runs the cottage that Louise is supposed to be managing, shows up. The girls tell him they're planting pumpkins. Right.
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