Bird Lake Moon

By Kevin Henkes; Glenwillow Books, 2008; pp. 179

Plot: Twelve-year-old Mitch’s father abruptly has decided he wants out of his marriage. His stunned mother, a teaching assistant, decides upon a change of scenery, so she and Mitch spend the summer at her parents’ home at near Bird Lake, a town and lake somewhere in Wisconsin. His grandparents, Papa Carl and Cherry, are the quiet types and not kid-friendly, and turns out, not the soft landing that Mitch and his mother need. His mother decides to leave Madison, Wisconsin, and spend the summer at her parent’s home, near Bird Lake. Here, Mitch feels alienated, lost, and angry. It would help if one of the adults in his life were communicative. Across the way, is an abandoned cottage, which Mitch stakes claim to, a place where he sorts out what happened to his home life, and a place that Mitch imagines will be his home someday. That is until a long-absent family returns, shattering that fantasy. The family comes with two children, and carrying baggage–a tragedy, that occurred at Blue Lake many summers ago. Despite the family’s outwardly placid and perfect appearance, it too was suffered its own loss. Mitch is not about to give up the cottage and sets out to spook the family. What Mitch doesn’t know is that the family is already haunted by its own ghost.

Genre: Fiction

Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12

Review: They grow up so fast. Seems like yesterday Kevin Henkes was penning Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, but with Bird Lake Moon, he wades chest-deep into a story about grief, divorce and healing. This boy-centric book centers around 12-year-old Mitch and his feelings and confusion over his parent’s recent separation and impending divorce. With Bird Lake Moon, Henkes presents a story that teeters between a boy making good, mean-spirited, and redemptive choices. Mitch is a boy on the edge at a turning point in his life. Will he have the courage to make a new friend or will be sabotage this friendship? Mitch and his new best buddy, learn the power of secrets, the meaning of friendship and the responsibility of that relationship. Henkes shows his range as a writer with this book. Some passages are gorgeous: Raindrops stuck to the screen in places–like unfinished needlepoint stitched in diamonds.” Henkes has written a grown up book that his early readers will enjoy, especially boys.

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