Of Pumpkins, Sunsets and Blueberries

Today is the official first day of fall. Mums, pumpkins and gourds have arrived everywhere in Maine.

 

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The lake, however, hasn’t switched yet to its autumnal appearance. Or was last night’s sunset some kind of farewell?

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Earlier this month I read a lovely, well-crafted Middle Grade book that feels perfect to end the summer season.

A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord is set in Maine as her three other novels are. This one tells of the unlikely friendship between a Maine girl and the daughter of migrant workers. Tigerlily (named after the lovely orange lilies that grow almost everywhere in Maine during the summer) or Lily for short, has lost her mother in a car accident and is raised by her loving French Canadians grandparents that she call Pépère and Mémère, like I called my set of  paternal grandparents. Although Salma says that she is from Florida, her parents are migrant farmers from Mexico, who follow the crops through the entire year, making it hard for Salma to make friends. When Lily and Salma meet because of Lucky, Lily’s dog, a strong friendship develops between them despite their very different lifestyles.

A Handful of Stars is a timely novel that explores the bonds between native and migrant kids and a timeless story that tells of children’s genuine friendships and also of their fierce love for animals. Lucky is in fact an essential character in the story.

Set in the area called Downeast, here in Maine, the story provided me surprising information related to the blueberry picking, a job done by migrant workers. I started to think differently of the delicious fruit after I read the book. Small hands, like Cynthia Lord writes, are often behind the blueberries that symbolize summer in Maine.

 

 

Wherever you are I wish you all a beautiful fall season filled with great stories.

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Comments

  1. Truly beautiful photos! The book sounds precious. I love storytelling that involves friendships between girls and/or pets as well as bring up larger issues that help us understand the world.

    • We’ve have been enjoying an extraordinary long summer, here in Maine. Water and sun make for spectacular photos and that evening was really special. The book, as any written by Cynthia Lord, is great. You would love the theme of this one, although it is for a younger readership that the one you target. But there is a lot to like in the story that appears more simple that it is. You can easily find this book at a public library in the children’s section. Cheers!

  2. Those are beautiful sunset photos Evelyne.

  3. That sunset is breathtaking, Especially if it’s one of summer bidding farewell and welcoming autumn, Quite the story to reflect with it too 🙂

  4. Great post, and lovely photos! You’re mking me homesick. : ) Autumn is the time I really miss home, and esoecially New England, the colors of the foliage, the crispness of the air, the pumpkin patches. Glad to see you enjoying them for me! The book sounds intriguing, too. Enjoy those sunsets!!

    • For a New England native, I can certainly imagine that you miss fall. So far it is a beautiful one, with crisp mornings, warmer days and cool nights. The leaves are just starting to turn. I’m looking forward to admiring their splendor. The book is wonderful. Cynthia Lord writes for middle graders and the setting is always somewhere in Maine. She won the Newbery Honor for Rules, her debut novel, a few years ago. I love how simple and yet deep her stories are. Wish I could be as great! Enjoy whatever sunset you can see, Kimberly.

  5. Beautiful pics, Evelyne. Happy Fall to you!

    Fondly,
    E

  6. Your sunset is so beautiful…Fall in England (well, autumn for us) only means rain.

  7. A very special treat Evelyn – we’ll be in Maine next week at this time (Bar Harbor region).

  8. Behind the Story says:

    Beautiful, beautiful fall photos.

    We all love to eat blueberries. But they’re so small. Imagine how long it takes to pick enough berries to fill a box. When I was a kid, I picked strawberries in the summer. It was hard work (and some fun fooling around), but strawberries are quite a bit bigger.

    • Thank you, Nicki. I learned a lot about the blueberry picking in this middle grade novel. The workers come from Latin America and also from Canada. They use a special rake that doesn’t damage the tiny fragile fruit. At the end of the season the dry bluberries are collected to be added to mix for pancakes or muffins and also canned. When we think of Maine we rarely associate with migrant workers, and yet this is the reality.
      I did the grape harvesting and tomatoes picking in France when I was a student. Hard work, although both fruit are bigger than the blueberries. See you soon, Nicki.

  9. Beautiful photos! We’re still waiting for fall here (103 degrees today)
    A Handful of stars sounds like a wonderful and timely book. I’ll be on the lookout for it.

    • This is when I like being in Maine in the summer. I must say that we are lucky to enjoy such beauty. The book is wonderful and you would love it. For a writer it’s a great exemple of how simple and yet complex a middle grade novel can be. See you soon, Claire.

  10. à toi aussi un bel automne, ici on ramasse avec mon filou des tas de marrons pour son plus grand plaisir 🙂 et là tout doucement j’attaque halloween même si je sais qu’ici ce n’est pas pareil …rien que les citrouille ne sont pas aussi grosses 🙂

    • Merci! Quand tu parles des marrons, parles-tu des chataignes? Elles me manquent beaucoup ici et elles ne se trouvent que peu en magasins. Je n’en ai jamais cueilli depuis que je vis aux US. Mais en France j’adorais la cueillette. Et la dégustation aussi!
      Tu as raison sur les citrouilles américaines. Elles sont souvent énormes. Tous les fruits et légumes sont d’ailleurs beaucoup plus gros ici qu’en France. Bel automne à toi et ta famille!

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