Monday, June 29, 2015

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: A Handful of Stars

This is a good “summer time” story to read with a slice of blueberry pie! I liked all the bits of information about having a blind dog, but the best part of this story was the friendship between the girls.

Here’s the Amazon description:

When Lily's blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it's Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season.

After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily's grandfather, and Salma's friendship transforms Lily's summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they'll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant-and possibly win?
Set amongst the blueberry barrens and by the sea, this is a gorgeous new novel by Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord that tackles themes of prejudice and friendship, loss and love.

 A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord, Scholastic Press, New York, 2015

My Take:

I really loved this story about friendships and how to be friends with more than one person at a time. I learned right along with Tigerlily as she found out more about Salma’s culture and background. The story and characters felt very natural and authentic, and reminded me of some of the feelings I had when I was around 10 or 11. I definitely recommend this one!

As a writer, I want to read this book again to study the pacing of the story, the natural way details are embedded in the story and the dialogue between the characters. I think I might just have to buy it to keep on my own shelf.

Opening Line:

“The only reason I ever spoke to Salma Santiago was because my dog ate her lunch.”


“Only having half of something after you’ve had it all is a special kind of sadness.”

“It’s always weird when I invite a friend to our apartment for the first time. Most kids don’t live above a store with their grandparents.”

“It’s scary to try something different when you don’t know how it’ll work out, but that’s when the best things happen.”

Other Info:

Cynthia Lord lives in Maine. She wrote the Newbery Honor book, Rules. She also writes the Shelter Pet Squad series and the Hot Rod Hamster series.

For more, visit Cynthia Lord’s website.  

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out author Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade series, Keeper of the Lost Cities.


  1. It's always good when you want to re-read a book to learn from it. This sounds like a great summer read.

  2. This is one on my TBR list. I've really enjoyed everything that Cynthia Lord has written. I like the multi-cultural aspect of this one--it sounds really good!

  3. I have heard about this one and do like Cynthia Lord's books, so I will check this one out. Thanks for the review.

  4. I've been dying to read this since I first heard about it. I loved RULES and I love Maine, so I'm sure I'll love this too.

  5. What a great opening line! This definitely sounds like something up my alley. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


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