Summer of the Gypsy Moths

by Sara Pennypacker

Eleven-year-old Stella and twelve-year-old Angel are living in foster care with Stella’s... read more

Eleven-year-old Stella and twelve-year-old Angel are living in foster care with Stella’s great aunt Louise on Cape Cod. When Louise dies suddenly, the girls—who’ve been at odds with one another since they met—decide not to tell anyone. Each feels she has too much to lose if the authorities find out. Stella has a dream that her unreliable mother will show up, inherit Louise’s house, and they can live there. Angel is waiting for her aunt to find work in the United States so she can live with her. The two bury Louise in the garden and convince others she is still alive. They take on Louise’s job of caring for the summer cottages next door, with Stella drawing on the beloved collection of “Hints from Heloise” that once belonged to her grandmother to troubleshoot problems while Angel struggles with the simplest tasks. But their situation is far from sustainable. There are days of hunger because they can’t easily get to the store, and the stress of maintaining the lie is always present. Still, a friendship blossoms between the two. Perhaps more surprising, each girl forges a relationship with Louise in death that she never managed while the woman was alive. The tension in Sara Pennypacker’s story is eased by moments of warmth, humor, and insight as Stella and Angel learn to truly trust one another—and face inevitable truths—in an exquisitely written novel that is as surprising as it is rewarding. (Ages 8–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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