I’m so excited to jump back into MMGM today. I’ve been on a bit of a YA kick lately, so it was great to return to middle grade.
A few weeks ago I did a poll to see which of my Scholastic Warehouse Sale finds I should read and give away next. JUNIPER BERRY was the winner, so here we go!
The house was a mansion, the lake was a pool, Kitty was a dog, and Juniper Berry was an eleven-year-old girl. Such is life for young Juniper: a series of contradictions. She is the daughter of the world’s most famous film stars, and yet she is alone. She lives on a palatial estate, but she feels trapped. And even though she is closer to her mother and father than anyone, she couldn’t feel more distant from them. In fact, Mr. and Mrs. Berry have been cold and disinterested and cruel, not at all themselves lately. And lonely, imprisoned Juniper and her equally beset friend, Giles, are determined to find out why.
On a cold and rainy night, she follows her parents as they sneak out of the house and enter the woods. What she discovers is an underworld filled with contradictions: one that is terrifying and enticing, lorded over by a creature both sinister and seductive, who can sell you all the world’s secrets bound in a balloon. For the first time, Juniper and Giles have a choice to make. And it will be up to them to confront their own fears in order to save the ones who couldn’t.
Here are the five things I loved most:
1. The premise – This has to be one of the most creative and creepy premises I’ve read in middle grade. And when you find out what is going on with the balloons … well, let’s just say I will never look at a balloon the same way again.
2. Juniper’s hope – I loved the way Juniper was able to hold onto her memories and stay hopeful despite her rather bleak existence.
3. The parents – M.P. Kozlowsky found a unique way of taking the parents out of the picture without killing them off. At the same time, their condition was quite horrifying for Juniper, and it made her quest even more emotionally impactful.
4. The friendship – I assumed from the book description that Juniper and Giles were already best friends. Instead, we get to see the friendship develop, and I really enjoyed that.
5. The illustrations – I don’t read many books with illustrations, but I’ve found that when a middle grade book includes them, they’re just perfect, and that was the case here.
I want to share JUNIPER BERRY with one of you! To enter for a paperback copy, leave a comment by noon on Sunday, March 30. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, March 31. United States and Canada only, please.