Reviews for Summer of the Gypsy Moths

Booklist Reviews 2012 May #2
Abandoned by her mother, 11-year-old Stella now lives on Cape Cod with her great-aunt Louise, who has taken in another foster child, Angel, as well. When Louise dies suddenly, the two girls bury her body in the garden and attempt to hide her death, fearing what will happen to them. Smart and diligent, if not friendly toward each other, the two girls form an uneasy alliance that gradually becomes a more lasting bond as they work together to hide their secret. Most memorable for the vivid scene in which the girls find Louise's body, this first-person novel is written from Stella's point of view. Though events strain credibility at times, the dialogue is convincing and the narrative drive is strong. The attractive book jacket, portraying two girls at the seaside, makes the novel look lighter than perhaps it should, given that Pennypacker's fans connect her with the Clementine books and the series reviving Jeff Brown's Flat Stanley, both for younger readers. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Stella's great-aunt Louise tends vacation cottages on Cape Cod. When her mother takes off (again), Stella ends up there, as does foster kid Angel. After Louise dies unexpectedly, the girls bury the body in the backyard and take over managing the cottages. Stella and Angel are equally annoying and endearing, and readers will cheer them on to the fully predictable and satisfying ending.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #3
Stella's great aunt Louise lives on Cape Cod, where she works tending vacation cottages for her friend George. Stella ends up there one summer when her mother takes off (yet again), as does foster kid Angel. The two girls are oil and water: Stella is obsessed with the "Hints from Heloise" clippings she inherited from her grandmother, while Angel only wants to watch Louise's soaps. The two collude, however, when Louise dies of a heart attack. Neither girl has had anything but bad experience with "the authorities," so instead of reporting Louise's death, they bury her in the backyard, deceive George into thinking she's laid up with a sprained ankle, and take over the management of the cottages. As preposterous as the various adult responses are to their feints, the plot does run exactly as a child's imagination would in this scenario. How to respond to the phone and the mail, how to order pizza with a credit card number and eat out of the departing vacationers' refrigerators, how to make George believe that, post-sprained ankle, Louise is now busy with a gentleman caller…the girls figure it all out. They keep it up for a month, enough time to figure out what constitutes a home, and a family. If Pennypacker's plot isn't totally believable, her characters are: Stella and Angel are each equally annoying and endearing, and readers will cheer them on to the fully predictable and satisfying ending. Stella and George are prone to metaphor-laden platitudes, but their tone is consistent with the overall arc of magical-summer-meets-desperate-situation. nina lindsay Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #2
Desperate times call for desperate measures indeed when, one summer afternoon on Cape Cod, 11-year-old Stella finds her sole caretaker, her great-aunt Louise, dead in her chair. Stella, who's been abandoned by her mom, and Louise's 12-year-old foster child Angel know the second they call 911 they'll be hauled off by the authorities… and the thought of having to leave a good home for who knows where is too much to bear. So they bury Louise in the garden. The suspense escalates. How long will Stella and Angel be able to keep Louise's death a secret in a small community? Will dogs dig up the body? Will the girls be able to pull off the task of assuming Louise's duties as manager of the Linger Longer Cottage Colony? How long can they survive eating relish, stale croutons and "Froot Loop dust"? The unfolding story is both deliciously intense and entertaining. Stella, an order-seeking girl whose oracle is Heloise (of hint fame), not only knows how to keep a corpse from smelling (Febreze), she employs old pantyhose and Crisco to keep the gypsy moths off Louise's beloved blueberry bushes. Stella's poetic, philosophical observations of the world are often genuinely moving, and tough-on-the-outside Angel is her perfect foil. A suspenseful, surprising novel of friendship and family from the creator of the popular Clementine series. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 March #4

Two dissimilar girls forge a genuine friendship under strenuous circumstances in Pennypacker's memorable, tense novel. The story unfolds in the fresh, credible voice of 11-year-old Stella, who's been taken from her unstable single mother and sent to live with her great-aunt Louise, also caregiver to an orphaned foster child named Angel. The girls barely speak to each other until Louise unexpectedly dies and, fearing they'll be placed in another foster home, they bury her body in the garden and try to hide that she has died. Throughout, Pennypacker (the Clementine series) skillfully meshes the poignant and the comedic. Identifying with Louise's blueberry bushes ("I knew how it felt when the one person tending you disappeared"), Stella vows to save them from lethal gypsy moths. Simul-taneously becoming self-sufficient and dependent on one another, Stella and Angel bond as they take over Louise's housecleaning job and try to stave off starvation. Beautifully evoked, the novel's Cape Cod setting plays a focal role in this richly layered tale of loss, resiliency, and belonging. Ages 8-12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 May

Gr 4-6--Ever since the death of her beloved grandmother, 11-year-old Stella has battled to maintain a sense of stability, to "clutch hold" to the spinning Earth. She explains that an unknown father and a terminally irresponsible mother have made her "personal gravity" "a little weak" and left her feeling rootless. Her anxiety is just beginning to lessen now that she shares a Cape Cod home with her taciturn Great-Aunt Louise and a foster girl named Angel whom Stella considers like "a cactus…all spines." Pennypacker beautifully illuminates Stella's physical experience with vivid, unfussy prose, allowing readers to feel her nervousness and longing and her vigorous commitment to cleanliness and order (she even identifies a folder of hints from Heloise as her most precious possession). When Louise dies suddenly, Stella and Angel secretly bury the body in order to stay in her house, managing the vacation cottage colony next door and surviving on tourists' leftovers, in hopes of buying time for each girl's desired caregiver to provide a suitable home. The book effectively evokes the gritty, sun-bleached textures and salt breezes of its seaside setting, a vacationlike contrast to the strenuous, desperate independence of the two girls. The understanding and emotional bond that grows between them develops with believable fluctuations and a light touch, as does the suspense of how long two kids can continue alone without being caught or getting a ride to the grocery store. Pennypacker's marvelously tactile writing animates Stella's narration and brings both engaging, resilient, and resourceful characters to life.--Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua, NY

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