Twelve-year-old Lily is thoughtful and bright but needs an extra push to unleash her imagination and individuality. That push is Salma Santiago, a migrant worker whose family is in Maine for the blueberry harvest.
The two girls connect when Salma helps catch Lily’s blind dog, Lucky, when he runs off through the blueberry barrens. Lily shares her plan to raise money for an operation to restore Lucky’s sight, and soon Salma is adding her artistic flair to Lily’s hand-painted bee-house business. When Salma learns that the winner of the annual Blueberry Queen pageant receives a large savings bond, which she needs to start a college fund, Lily vows to help Salma win the pageant. But a migrant worker has never before entered the competition, and Lily’s friend Hannah is also a contestant.
Though the story acknowledges tensions that arise between friends, Lily and Salma exhibit a mutually supportive friendship that is often missing from stories about girls. Young readers will appreciate Lily’s concerns about growing up and the confidence she finds in a new friendship.
Newbery Honor winner Cynthia Lord delivers a sweet story about letting go creatively and emotionally while holding onto friendship.
This article was originally published in the June 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.