Lynne Rae Perkins, winner of the 2006 Newbery Medal for her novel Criss Cross, delights with her new book, Sisters of the Salty Sea. Perkins’ charming black-and-white illustrations are matched by gentle, evocative language that sparkles like summer sunlight on the sea—which happens to be the destination of the Treffreys’ long-awaited family vacation. Alix and her older sister, Jools, have never been to the beach. When their parents plan a first-time-ever beach trip, Alix is excited but nervous. She’s never been anywhere new, and she’s expecting swaying palm trees and a turquoise sea.
Sadly, there is not a single palm tree in sight, and the ocean is a foamy gray, but the trip provides plenty of adventures for the sisters, from discovering horseshoe crabs to helping release a falcon at a wildlife station and eating their first fried periwinkles—snails by any other name.
Perkins’ sensory details, paired with her endearing illustrations, provide a refreshing break from the usual page turners that are served up for young readers. Alix is an easily relatable character—part spunky, part shy—and not yet sure of herself. The novel’s themes of family, friendship, growing up and trying new things are a perfect fit for Perkins’ middle grade audience.