Nothing else is right, though. She and her parents come to Sanibel Island for this week every year, and every year the same people rent the cottages around them, so that it feels like a kind of vacation family. Alice loves the warm familiarity, the sense that everything will be the same. This year, however, everything’s different. Some people aren’t there at all, and her beloved Aunt Kate has brought a boyfriend and his six-year-old daughter, Mallory.
Turning ten might be harder than Alice thought.
Junonia, a short, classic-feeling book by Kevin Henkes, has a quiet charm. Alice is an endearing character, and the reader is deeply immersed in her inner life, especially her sense that she is standing on the edge of something wonderful and frightening, and that she’s not quite sure how to navigate it yet.
Learning that the world is more changeable – and less reliable – than you want it to be is one of the hardest lessons of growing up, and one of the most necessary. Alice’s struggle to accept the inconstancy around her is something every almost-adolescent child can identify with.
Lovely illustrations head every chapter, as one might expect of Kevin Henkes, and their simplicity compliments the calm, streamlined story. There is a quality of timelessness about the book, an echo of the unchanging ocean, so that it reminds us gently that some things change, but luckily some stay the same.