MOONPENNY ISLAND for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I wasn’t hooked at first… another story about the friendship of two girls. WceGgDUNlCA8RPHOz66AbHHs4RI12Vqg+OoBRGBrKx2plCphEkAr3aizNSRpuGHkIoDZcS4gLRs3LNNbucM2tx5Z0rf81yX+W0g6HD2rKD1Q5iDKyCBWtzAWMsmQ+7PK I sighed and by the end of the first chapter a single string kept tugging. Read more. So I did. The string continued to wrap itself around me until I couldn’t get away… It had me.

Not sure if there’s a tween boy who would pick up and finish this book, but this quiet, sad tale with a fantastic setting is one that tween girls will enjoy immensely. Told in third person, the story keeps close to 11-year-old sixth grader, Flor, the entire way. Regardless of the audience for the story, readers will find many good themes. Those of friendship lost and gained, accepting others no matter what they look like or act, and knowing every young person fits into this world somehow. They just have to discover it. The tale is not just about two girls, but goes deeper with family, community, and life.

The setting of a small island in the middle of a great lake in Ohio wonderfully materializes. You visualize each part of MoonPenny Island thanks to words the author skillfully weaves. It’s a place you’d want to visit. For me I’m glad I kept reading.


FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) Moonpenny is a tiny island in a great lake. When the summer people leave and the ferries stop running, just the tried-and-true islanders are left behind. Flor and her best, her perfect friend, Sylvie, are the only eleven-year-olds for miles and miles—and Flor couldn’t be happier. But come the end of summer, unthinkable things begin to happen. Sylvie is suddenly, mysteriously, whisked away to school on the mainland. Flor’s mother leaves to take care of Flor’s sick grandmother and doesn’t come back. Her big sister has a secret, and Flor fears it’s a dangerous one.

Meanwhile, a geologist and his peculiar daughter arrive to excavate prehistoric trilobites, one of the first creatures to develop sight. Soon Flor is helping them. As her own ability to see her life on this little lump of limestone evolves, she faces truths about those she loves—and about herself—she never imagined.


  1. The characters are richly portrayed. My favorite was Jasper, the honest new kid on the island who longs for friendship but doesn’t know how it works. There’s also older sister, Cecilia; tough exterior Perry Pinch; Sylvie; Joe Hawkins; and of course Flor. They all have secrets that make moving forward in life so difficult.
  2. The one classroom for all grades was an accurate depiction of how that would play out. Being the only sixth grader is something most young people will never face.
  3.  The adults all have problems of their own that only can be speculated from a child’s perspective. We don’t learn until the end exactly what those problems are but we have a good idea. It makes the young characters that much stronger in one’s eyes.
  4. Middle grade kids think and ponder a lot. They’ll find the characters in this story doing the same. A connection made.
  5. The inclusion of Charles Darwin and his life as a scientist. Flor learns to see things differently with her visits to Jasper and Dr. Fife, her dad. Many surprising tidbits are tossed as we learn about Darwin’s life and work.

FAVORITE LINES: Lauren is a disappointed person. For one, she dreams of being a famous singer, but her voice is sandpaper, and for another, she’s been in love with Perry Pinch since third grade. Ha! Guess who Perry is in love with? Himself. The one and only.

Author Quote: I’m a writer, so looking is my business. I try to see what’s in front of me, but what’s behind and underneath too. I try to work the hardest trick of all–seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. That’s where I discover the stories most worth telling. (From Tricia’s Website)


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Just click on the Comments word above. You’ll find it right under the title of this post.

Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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6 Responses to MOONPENNY ISLAND for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. I’ve seen this one around. Glad it pulled you in after a slower start.

  2. This sounds like a wonderful book. Science, several characters with problems, not just one. And an island. My kind of book. Thanks for the enticing review.

  3. Joanne Fritz says:

    I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book, but your review is so thorough, I’ve learned a few things by reading it! Interesting that even Darwin’s life enters into this.

  4. I absolutely love this book. So glad to see the word being spread and glad you enjoyed it. Your review really nails what is good about this book. Thanks for the post.

  5. Glad you featured this one, as I’m not sure I would have picked it up, but now I’m intrigued. It sounds like a wonderful blend of characters, storytelling and setting!

  6. Andrea says:

    I’m intrigued! I like that quote you pulled out!

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