Three Bird Summer
By Sara St. Antoine
(Candlewick, Hardcover, 9780763665647, 256pp.)
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
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An introspective boy and an adventurous girl uncover a poignant family mystery during a summer on the shores of Three Bird Lake.
For as long as he can remember, Adam and his parents have spent their summers at his grandmother’s rustic cabin on Three Bird Lake. But this year will be different. There will be no rowdy cousins running around tormenting Adam. There will be no Uncle John or Aunt Jean. And there'll be no Dad to fight with Mom. This year, the lake will belong just to Adam.
But then Adam meets Alice, the girl next door, who seems to want to become friends. Alice looks just like the aloof, popular girls back home—what could he and she possibly have in common?
Turns out, Alice isn't like the girls back home. She's frank, funny, and eager for adventure. And when Adam's grandma starts to leave strange notes in his room—notes that hint at a hidden treasure somewhere at the lake and a love from long ago—Alice is the one person he can rely on to help solve the mysteries of Three Bird Lake.
Sara St. Antoine was eight years old when she first paddled a canoe—on the Huron River in her hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Within moments, she struck an overhanging tree branch and the canoe capsized. Since then, she has paddled lakes and rivers from Temagami, Ontario, to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. "For all that," she says, "I'm still better at soaking up the scenery from the bow of a canoe than steering a straight course from the stern." She is the editor of the Stories from Where We Live series, anthologies of literature from different regions of North America, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and two daughters.
Adam is a fully developed character many readers will relate to as he works through his changing relationship with his grandmother and his friendship with Alice. The leisurely pace matches the setting of long days spent dock-sitting or canoeing, and nature is never far from Adam’s mind as he watches loons, beavers, and even a pair of mink in their natural habitats. Rich in descriptive detail, readers will be able to fully visualize the characters and the lush setting of this well-written novel.
—School Library Journal
Adam and Alice are both endearing and believable teenagers. ... This spirited novel seamlessly combines endings and beginnings against the beautiful backdrop of a lake in summer.
This quiet story has plenty to offer, beginning with the vivid depiction of an independent, self-aware 12-year-old boy who is baffled (though occasionally intrigued) by girls. ... St. Antoine depicts complex intergenerational relationships with balance and sensitivity, and the novel includes one of the more unusual treasure hunts in children’s books. Readers drawn to the understated jacket art will find plenty to enjoy here.
"Three Bird Summer" will charm readers with its tale of a summer that is very different indeed.
This chapter book will appeal to those readers who enjoy a realistic look at the joys and complications of contemporary family life. ... Told entirely from Adam’s viewpoint, this coming-of-age story successfully captures the uncertainty and pitfalls of being neither child nor teenager as your world changes.
—Library Media Connection
A charming and quiet mystery... It's a novel about wanting summer ot last forever and all those bittersweet young emotions.
Anyone who appreciates memories of family vacations or summertime in general will enjoy the vivid imagery that fills Three Bird Summer. Readers will fall into the story, almost as if they’re actually spending the summer exploring Three Bird Lake with Adam and Alice.
—TIME for Kids
'Three Bird Summer' is filled with perfect moments of description. The writing is graceful and fluid. Adam himself is a likeable, thoroughly believable introvert... Partly a hymn to summer, part mystery, part coming-of-age story, 'Three Bird Summer' contains a satisfying number of plot twists and turns and a wonderful not-overly-neat resolution.
—The Boston Globe