Synopses & Reviews
Lake Champlain was a friend I could count on. I knew her every mood—sometimes she was flat like a cookie sheet, and other times she was whipped up like meringue on a butterscotch pie. Thats the way I felt, too. Ever since Eva had moved in with Mom and me last month, I was as changeable as the lake. In this middle grade novel from debut author Jennifer Gennari, twelve-year-old June Farrell is sure of only one thing—shes great at making pies and she plans to prove it by winning a blue ribbon in the Champlain Valley Fair pie competition. But a backlash against Vermonts civil union law threatens her familys security and their business, the Stillwater Marina Shop, where June and her mom sell pies. The uproar strains Junes friendship with Tina and, more importantly, her relationship with her mother, MJ. To make matters more complicated for June, Eva—MJs girlfriend—moves in to their home and, to top it all off with a cherry, MJ and Eva ask June to be the flower girl in their wedding. Junes complex struggle is tempered by the support of her best friend Luke and Ms. Flynn, the town librarian, both of whom urge June not to give up on entering the pie competition—and, more poignantly, not to give up on her family. In the face of adversity and prejudice, June finds the courage to question, to be emotive, and to just be herself all while she stands up to her greatest fears.
"Set against the backdrop of the legalization of civil unions for gay couples in Vermont in 2000, Gennari's debut novel spends the summer with 12-year-old June Farrell, an accomplished pie maker who is still getting used to living with her mother's partner, Eva. 'I understood that Mom went out on dates with women, and sometimes I met them. But no one lasted. Not until Eva.' June's uneasiness is compounded when her mother and Eva announce that they are planning a civil union ceremony, just as a local antigay 'Take Back Vermont' campaign is gaining traction, testing June's friendships and emotions. Readers won't have to look hard to find metaphors that allude to June's turmoil the churning waters of Lake Champlain, a burnt-pie smell that 'seemed to linger for days' and Gennari doesn't gloss over June's discomfort with her mother's relationship, her unpleasantness toward Eva, or her desire for a father. It's a realistic account of a family coming together under stress, as June finds inner strength that brings her several triumphs and helps her stand up for her family. Ages 9 12. Agent: Alison Picard." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer
is like its protagonist, full to bursting with sweetness and summer light. . .When things begin to look bleak and scary, you just know June has the grit and sunshine to pull through." —Tim Wynne-Jones, award-winning author
"Mix a pitch-perfect narrator with serious themes (but dont set it aside to cool) and you have My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer. Tart in places and sweet in others, Ms. Gennaris debut novel is satisfying in every way."—Ron Koertge, author of Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs
"A realistic account of a family coming together under stress."--Publishers Weekly
"This title is a much-needed addition to the world of LGBT literature for young readers, given the relative scarcity of pre-YA novels about kids dealing with gay parents."--Bulletin
"This strong, vibrant novel looks at a complicated issue without didacticism or platitudes, but with the level of complexity it deserves, staying true to the heart of the protagonist."--School LIbrary Journal
"Mary Maes inquiring mind and keen observational skills get affirmation from her fifth-grade teacher but distress her creationist mother. Refusing to take her pastors advice to "trust the Bible scholars," Mary Mae ends up with more and more questions as she tries to reconcile the Bibles account of creation with what shes learning in class about fossils and the age of the earth. Eventually, Mary Maes questioning leads her frustrated mother to yank her out of school to provide Bible-based homeschooling. "Why cant you be my sweet little Mary Mae?" she asks. "Its all so easy if you just believe what the Bible says and dont go asking no questions." Dutton (Dear Miss Perfect) sensitively navigates the sticky debate between creationism and evolution both through the young narrators delightful curiosity and honest questions, and through the various responses she receives from numerous caring adults, who all strive to provide truthful guidance. Concluding with a pastors affirmation that faithful people can have different opinions, its an honest portrayal that respects both viewpoints, as well as those that slot somewhere in between."--Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Very few books for this age group tackle religious subjects as this one does, in a way that shows respect for all sides. Dutton allows Mary Mae to retain both her questions and her faith; instead of a definitive answer, she shows evolutionists and creationists working to find a small, shared piece of middle ground. Mary Mae is a memorable character--spunky but not defiant--whose search for truth drives the narrative."--Kirkus Reviews
"This is a great story with valuable lessons. Told in an Appalachian dialect, it not only depicts real feelings about religion, but also shows the people behind them as good. It is both a lovely coming-of-age story and a lesson in respect between religion and science."--School Library Journal
June has a lot on her plate in this middle-grade novel debut: bullying, backlash to her lesbian mom's gay marriage, and a baking competition are all served up for our brave heroine. Does June have what it takes to turn her mixed-up berry blue summer into something as sweet as wild berry pie?
Twelve-year-old June Farrell is sure of one thing—shes great at making pies—and she plans to prove it by winning a blue ribbon in the Champlain Valley Fair pie competition. But a backlash against Vermonts civil union law threatens her familys security and their business. Even when faced with bullying, June wont give up on winning the blue ribbon; more importantly, she wont give up on her family.
When what Mary Mae is learning in Miss Sizemore's class about fossils and eras and rock formations doesn't seem to make sense with what Mary Mae is learning at Sunday School, she starts asking questions and finds that getting a straight answer might be harder than it looks...
Ten-year-old Mary Mae loves to sing hymns with her Granny, go to Sunday School, and learn about trilobites. She has lots of questions about how the earth looked millions of years ago. Trouble is, Mary Mae’s mother thinks it's wrong to believe the world is that old. Mama believes God created it six thousand years ago and she believes that nobody should teach Mary Mae otherwise. When Mary Mae starts taking her questions to church, asking how God created the earth in six days or how eight people could take care of animals on an ark, Mama puts her foot down: homeschooling. Mary Mae must decide where her loyalties lie: with science and Miss Sizemore, with God and Mama, or somewhere in the middle.
About the Author
Sandra Dutton grew up the daughter of Sunday school teachers in Ohio. She was as curious about Genesis as she was about the fossils in her backyard. She says, “I wrote this book for kids like me who love discovering things, whether in the Bible, the backyard, or a history book. I want them to have the courage to ask questions.” She has two grown sons and lives with her husband in Maine.