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Summary: It may be a typical weather for a Texas summer, but it's far from a typical summer. Janine's only playmates are her dog and her brother, Ricky. Because of Ricky's illness, Mama has put strict limits on what he can do. When Mr. Lunas arrives (literally) out of the cornfield, things get even more strange. Even though they have no money and barely enough food for themselves, Janine's Dad invites Mr. Lunas to stay with them. Janine isn't sure what to think and is even more confused when Mr.Lunas gives her the opportunity to taste moonbeams he collected in a jar of water. When Ricky gets really sick, Janine's life is so filled with gloom and tension, she's about to burst. Then, she has an idea. She will surprise Ricky and make what could be his last wish come true. But will she do it in time? This novel, set in 1961, offers a story about family, friendship, and growing up.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, anytime reading, family reading, independent reading, middle grade reader, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 10; read yourself: 11 and up
Interest Level: 9 to 12
Reading Level: 6.7
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is an interesting story. Dotti Enderle does a great job of helping you feel the stickiness and heat of that rural Texas farm. The characters are well developed, each with their own role to play. This is Janine's story, but Enderle makes it easy to empathize with Daddy, Momma, and Ricky. Although this is a realistic story, there are elements of fantasy that leave you thinking about the book even after you've finished reading it.
Pros: Preteens will enjoy this fast-paced read about a young girl. The setting is 1961, but the story is timeless.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a perfect summer read.
Educational Themes: This is a book meant to be enjoyed as a story. There are themes of myths, sibling rivalry, and family dynamics that can be drawn out in small group discussion. It moves quickly from event to event and the chapters are short. Together, those things make it very appealing for reluctant readers. The story is sophisticated enough for remedial readers, too.
Notes: Flesch Kincaid reading level 6.7
Literary Categories: Fiction - family, health, life lessons
Date(s) Reviewed: July 2009
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