Ever since her mom died when she was little, Lily's been raised by her grandma and grandpa. They live right above their store in Maine. It's a bustling town during blueberry season when workers come to help with the harvest and the tourists buy blueberry products. This summer, Lily has been feeling distant from her best friend, and wishes things could go back to the way they were. Thank goodness, for her dog, Lucky. Unfortunately, he’s having trouble with his vision and can't see very well. Lily’s hoping to afford an expensive operation that might help Lucky. He's one of her last connections to her mom. After her dog gets loose and runs to the blueberry fields she meets Salma, a girl her age, who is helping with the picking. Lily and Salma become fast friends. Together they work to raise money to get Lucky the surgery he needs. Now the Blueberry Festival preparations are beginning and soon the pageant for Blueberry Queen will take place. This year her former best friend will be running against Salma. There's more than just the crown at stake, there’s money and a sense of belonging. No matter what Lily expected from the pageant there was no way she could've guessed the events that would unfold. Will the girls raise enough money for Lucky’s surgery? Who will be crowned the next Blueberry Queen? How will Lily deal with her friendship issues?
I have read many books by Cynthia Lord and I was pleased to read A Handful of Stars. I heard her speak about the book at the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair this past November. It was great to dive into the story knowing a little bit more about the background of the migrant workers who go to Maine, and I remembered Ms. Lord talking about how the cover was designed. This is a wonderful story about family and relationships. It helps kids learn about old and new friends. Another important theme is going outside of the box and learning to believe in yourself. It was also a good lesson for Lily that sometimes what we wish for most isn't what's best, so we shouldn't close our minds off to other ways our hopes can be answered. I recommend this book to kids in fourth grade and up who like realistic fiction. A definite treat for any dog lovers out there! There are great things throughout the book that make the story stay with you long after you turn the last page. This is a book that made me laugh and I even shed a few tears. I've thought about the characters a lot and that tells me something about the book.
Has anyone else read A Handful of Stars? Or have you read another book by Cynthia Lord? We’d love to hear your thoughts!