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A Handful of Stars: 05/20/16

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

Maine was a popular setting for tween fiction in 2015. Concurrent themes with the local have been immigration, language barriers, French heritage (by way of Quebec), and how rural most of it is. A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord adds to that mix blueberries.

Lily's blind dog gets away from her and leads her on a chase to the blueberry picking fields, staffed mostly by itinerant workers. Lily meets Salma Santiago and after some very awkward introductions the girls become friends.

Lily makes spending money by selling painted birdhouses at her grandparents' store. Salma begins helping her but has a very unorthodox (from Lily's POV) approach. They are also more popular, leading to some feelings of jealousy.

But most of the story is Lily trying to convince the town to let Salma enter the Blueberry Queen pageant, something usually reserved for year-round residents. It's in their resistance that Lily begins to recognize her own prejudices about Salma and her family.

Mixed in with all of this are facts about blueberries from Maine. My only quibble here is that the book would have us believe that the vast majority of blueberries eaten in the United States come from Maine. That's not true. The top producing states are Michigan, Georgia, Oregon and Washington. Heck, even New Jersey out performs Maine.

Two stars

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