by Elizabeth Enright
Listening age: 5+
All my girls, and me too, enjoyed this book from cover to cover! In fact, I think we finished it in record time because we just couldn't seem to put it down.
The story caught my attention right away with the sweet descriptions of the main characters--cousins--and their ensuing summer friendship forged at the home of the adolescent boy, Julian.
He and his visiting cousin, Portia, spend their days outside on his family's large farm, discovering and collecting all manner of nature. In the course of their adventures, they discover an all-but-abandoned Victorian-era resort community that still houses a couple of elderly, eccentric siblings. And this is where the story really begins to be weaved into a delightful tale of multi-generational friendships, the extinct innocence of kids and clubhouses, and long summer days spent with imaginations instead of wiis and x-boxes.
I recommend you open the vault and use a wide range of distinctive voices as you read this one aloud, as opposed to letting it be an independent read for children not yet steeped and strong in their walk with God; the children in the story often employ mild expletives as exclamations. (H*ck! Dogg*nit!)
Very rarely, there was the mention of a "ghost" that never materialized, and wasn't really part of the story as much as just a term thrown around to enhance the mystery of a 50-year abandoned row of houses. It didn't bother me--I usually just skipped both of the above-mentioned offenses, and didn't take anything away from the story.
My 12-year-old is already looking up the sequel.
We give this book an "A."