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The Great Good Summer Paperback – May 3, 2016
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This engaging debut novel hooks readers from beginning to end...This tender and funny story of a strong-willed young girl is reminiscent of Rita Williams-Garcia’s One Crazy Summer (HarperCollins, 2010) and Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie (Candlewick, 2000). (School Library Journal *STARRED REVIEW February 2015)
Ivy's quirky voice narrates the story, which is full of adventure, to be sure, but also meditations on home, family, and the differences—and striking similarities—between science and religion...Equal parts peculiar and poignant, Ivy's story will have readers giggling as they root for her to find everything she's looking for. (Kirkus Reviews February 2015)
“It’s the surprise and mystery of it that makes us want to watch,” quips Ivy Green, age 12, about watching remote-control airplanes fly, though she could just as easily be talking about her story itself....The real strength of this folksy novel, the first from picture-book author Scanlon (All the World), is its earnest, nonsaccharine treatment of what it means to have faith and to question it. As Ivy’s trust in her mother is shaken, so is her faith in God (“We wouldn’t be in this fix in the first place if it weren’t for God”). Readers will be rewarded with both genuine adventure and intense reflection as Ivy finds a balance between safe comfort and disquieting wonder. (Publishers Weekly)
I loved this book for Ivy's tenderness and strength, for her so-real voice. I loved it for Ivy and Paul's growing friendship and what this says about true love. Liz Garton Scanlon has, with courage and tons of artistry, given us a fun and suspenseful story that is not afraid to ask the big questions. (Francisco X. Stork, author of Marcelo in the Real World)
When Ivy Green can’t take any more missing, when even God seems to have taken off for parts unknown (along with her Mama), redemption nevertheless appears—in the sky, the stars, a kind-of-cute science boy, and a whole cast of people who love her. Liz Garton Scanlon has written a great-good miracle of a book. I can’t stop hugging it. (Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath)
When Ivy Green’s mom leaves Ivy and her dad to follow a pastor named Hallelujah Dave to the Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida, the seventh-grader’s life is turned upside down. Mr. Green doesn’t seem to know what to do about his missing wife or understand the depth of his daughter’s unhappiness. But Ivy’s newish friend, science-geek Paul, does have an idea: take the bus from their small Texas town to Florida, find Mrs. Green, and then visit the Kennedy Space Center, at Cape Canaveral....Ivy is a delicious character with a smart, believable voice. The conversations between churchgoing Ivy and science-loving Paul are some of the best parts of the book....Give this to readers who like their coming-of-age journeys with a hint of religion and a dose of humor. (Booklist)
This is an engaging story with strong characters and relationships, especially the father–daughter and mother–daughter bonds. The plot moves along quickly, and Ivy is a smart and thoughtful girl who many readers will appreciate. The story shows readers how trying teenage years can be and how difficult it can be to understand your place in social groups, as well as how tough the truth can be to handle. The conversations among all the characters and Ivy are realistic and make the book worth reading.—Karen Sykeny. VOYA (VOYA April 2015)
Living in the east Texas town of Loomer should be good for the soul. According to twelve-year-old resident Ivy Green, “We’ve got more churches than Quick Marts. And we have Advent Oil and Lube, and we have Heaven Sent Hair Designs, and we have Creation Concrete. And we pray in school, which the science club doesn’t like, but that doesn’t seem to stop anybody except the kids in science club.” When a series of wildfires devastates the countryside, Ivy’s mama can’t find a speck of that godliness, so, trying to “get right with God,” she up and takes off for Florida with Hallelujah Dave and his Great Good Bible Church. Confused and seemingly helpless to change her situation, Ivy spends the beginning of the summer babysitting and fretting about her mama. But when her classmate, science club member and aspiring astronaut Paul Dobbs, suggests they go to Florida, find Ivy’s mama, and swing by the space shuttle before the program shuts down and dashes his dreams, the two are off on an improbable road trip. And although they travel far geographically, the novel is largely about internal growth as Ivy searches for resolutions that can incorporate her faith and Paul’s scientific view of the world. Although Paul and Ivy’s initial friendship appears a little convenient, their strong bond by story’s end is both honest and moving. An author’s note identifies the two real-life events (the Bastrop, Texas, fires and the final voyage of the space shuttle in 2011) that set the stage for the book. (Horn Book Magazine May/June 2015)
About the Author
Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of numerous celebrated picture books, including In the Canyon; Happy Birthday, Bunny!; and the Caldecott Honor recipient All the World. Liz is an adjunct professor of creative writing at Austin Community College, and her poetry has been published widely in literary journals. She lives with her family in Austin, Texas. Visit her at LizGartonScanlon.com.
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An enjoyable book for fans of Deborah Wiles (LOVE, RUBY LAVENDAR), Richard Peck (A YEAR DOWN YONDER) and Sharon Creech (WALK TWO MOONS). An aside to parents: The story never addresses whether Ivy’s mom ran off to spiritually follow Hallelujah Dave, or if there were more earthly attractions involved. As a grown up, I think it rather weird that that whole subject never came up in neighborly gossip or anything else. SLIGHT SPOLIER ALERT: I also found the hospital scene at the end totally unrealistic – as if any hospital keeps a person for days without trying to locate next of kin.
About me: I’m a middle school/high school librarian
How I got this book: review copy sent by the publisher
This is a great story, filled with keen observations on family and faith. Ivy is a devout young girl, and her struggles to come to terms with her mother's actions by finding explanations in scripture where all very well done without ever becoming heavy handed. The author offers up some real insight on the process kids go through in forgiving their parents when they screw up.,
Ivy and Paul make quite a duo, although I think this is where the story takes a slight misstep. Paul's search for his dreams doesn't seem to quite match up with Ivy's quest, however I did enjoy their friendship and felt that it added heart and a touch of humor and authenticity to a story that is ultimately pretty serious and dark. The Great Good Summer is a well written, thoughtful story and is an enthusiastic recommend.
Kids think about things. They think about God and religion and wonder and the world. And when things are difficult, they question their faith, regardless of what it is that they have faith in: their parents, their hopes and dreams, their own place in the world and yes, sometimes their religion. The lives of children are one continual effort to make sense of the world. It is a rare and special thing to see this reflected on the pages of a book. These days so many authors sell their readers short, but Scanlon does not. She does not condescend, she does not oversimplify, she does not skirt the tough stuff. She gives kids credit for being thinkers and dreamers, hopers and wishers, complex inquisitive people and I applaud her for it.
With that intro, you might expect something serious, dull and plodding, but The Great Good Summer is none of these things. It’s a story of friendship, determination and a road trip meant to reclaim a bit of hope. Ivy has been raised as an upstanding member of the Baptist Church. Her Mama and Daddy have always been there for her. But this summer, after a rash of wildfires, her mama was just not herself. And one day she just up and took off with a preacher called Hallelujah Dave of the Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida. Ivy and her Daddy have to muddle along without her. But like most kids, Ivy wants more of an explanation than she’s been given. And she wants her mama back. During the summer, she meets Paul, a science club kid at the park where he and his friends fly model planes. Unlike Ivy, Paul doesn’t believe in God. His faith is in science and the stars, the sense that there is something bigger than our small world: the universe.
The Great Good Summer manages to talk about serious issues without being heavy or serious itself. It does not attempt to declare either Ivy or Paul as morally right. Rather it gently shows the ways such different beliefs can still have common ground. This is a very special book and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Age Recommendation: Grades 4+. Although this book tackles some difficult questions, it’s done in a way that will be accessible even to middle grades readers. The friendship between Ivy and Paul is just that, a friendship and does not progress to anything that would make it better suited to older readers.
When Ivy becomes friends with a classmate, Paul, he offers her a solution to her problems. The two embark on a journey to Florida on their own, intent on finding Ivy's mom.
This is a sweet story that I was easily entertained by. I appreciated that the content was clean and could be enjoyed by a younger audience (fourth - sixth grade) even though Ivy is in middle school.
Her friendship with Paul isn't romantic, and as the two travel together they form a true friendship. Despite the fact that Paul's life looks ideal to outsiders, his parents don't seem to understand his dreams and wishes, which is something Ivy realizes is different about her relationship with her parents.
I enjoyed The Great Good Summer immensely and can't wait to see another novel from Scanlon.