Summary and book reviews of Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes

Bird Lake Moon

by Kevin Henkes

Bird Lake Moon
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2008, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2010, 192 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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About this Book

Book Summary

When two boys come to spend the summer at Bird Lake, each is reeling from his own personal tragedy. Both boys arrive scarred and fragile, but as they become friends, the sharp edges of their lives smooth out and, slowly, they are able to start to heal.

Spencer thought the house might be haunted.

Mitch knew it wasn't. And he knew why.

The whole time Spencer and Mitch hung out together at Bird Lake that summer, there were secrets keeping them apart.

And maybe a secret knowledge keeping them together, too—together like members of the same tribe. Like friends.


Author Note
Dear Reader,

Olive’s Ocean, my last novel, was published in 2003. Since then I’ve written and illustrated three picture books and two board books. All the while I was working on those books, I was thinking about Bird Lake Moon. In fact, my first notes for Bird Lake Moon are dated June 2003.

My new book revolves around two boys: Spencer Stone and Mitch Sinclair. It was Spencer and his family who came to me first. It’s interesting to me now that Mitch wasn’t part of the story when I began. But once he appeared in my thoughts and on the page, he became increasingly important. In its final form, the book starts with his story.

The creative process is difficult to understand, much less explain.  I do know that bits and pieces of my life and of my family’s life are embedded in Bird Lake Moon, as they are in all my books. And, like a person, a book grows, lives, moves forward in its own way.

After being a huge part of me for years, Bird Lake Moon is ready to find its readers. It’s bittersweet to let a book go, but I’m already thinking of other ones. . . .

Best wishes,

Kevin Henkes

Chapter One

Mitch

Mitch Sinclair was slowly taking over the house, staking his claim. He had just finished carving his initials into the underside of the wooden porch railing, which was his boldest move so far. The other things he had done had required much less courage. He had swept the front stoop with his grandmother's broom. He had cleaned the decaying leaves and the puddle of murky water out of the birdbath in the side yard and filled it with fresh water. He had spat on the huge rotting tree stump at the corner of the lot each day for the past week, marking the territory as his. And he had taken to crawling under the screened back porch during the hot afternoons; he'd lean against the brick foundation in the cool shade, imagining a different life, if, as his mother had said, their old life was over. Forever.

Although he'd seen the house many times while visiting his grandparents, Mitch had never paid much attention to it before. The house was vacant....

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About the Book

During a summer at Bird Lake, Mitch Sinclair and Spencer Stone both seek healing from tragedy in their lives. Mitch's father has left his mother for another woman, while Spencer must come to grips with the death of his brother, Matty. Before the Stone family arrives at Bird Lake, Mitch had claimed the empty summer house next door for his own. When Spencer and his family move in, Mitch resents their intrusion and tries to convince them that the house is haunted. Spencer interprets Mitch's tricks as signs— somehow—from Matty. After the boys meet face-to-face and become friends, Mitch confesses his deception, but he still holds onto one secret. Mitch once again is left to deal with loss and change when ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

With sure, crystalline prose, Henkes discloses the breathless suspense that even the shortest moment can contain, and the enormous courage that loss demands. Young readers who plunge into these extraordinary interlocking stories will discover mysterious, sad, and hopeful things about themselves and the people they love.   (Reviewed by Jo Perry).

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Media Reviews

VOYA

[T]he novel embodies the sympathy and kindness of which Henkes is capable when creating young characters dealing with loss.

Publishers Weekly

In a novel as tender as his acclaimed Olive's Ocean, Henkes probes the psyches of two boys facing family conflicts.

Kirkus Reviews

Through artfully observed details and perfectly pitched dialogue among the boys and clever Lolly, Henkes deftly locates Mitch's pain and confusion, delivering a novel that's quiet, nuanced and redemptive.

School Library Journal

Henkes creates compelling, child-centric images, excellent dialogue, and a believable resolution, with humor and just the right amount of tension to make this a significant and highly readable book.

Reader Reviews

Jillian

I loved Bird Lake Moon
Hi I am Jillian and I thought that Bird Lake Moon was a very good book. If you want to know whether it is good or not then it is awesome! You should definitely read it! If you don't agree with my opinion then okay it is my opinion not yours.

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Beyond the Book

Preventing Drowning
In Bird Lake Moon, the tragic drowning of Spencer's four-year-old brother haunts his family during their return visit to Bird Lake. As we approach the summer months, it is wise to ponder the following tragic statistics presented by the Orange County Fire Authority:

"Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths to children ages 14 and under. A temporary lapse in supervision is a common factor in most drownings and near-drownings. Child drownings can happen in a matter of seconds - in the time it takes to answer the phone. There is often no splashing to warn of trouble. . . "

Even more sobering are the following facts about how and when drownings occur:

  • Of all ...

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