The Girl from Earth’s End

Candlewick. Mar. 2023. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781536224801.
Gr 3-7–Twelve-year-old Henna has lived her entire life on the tiny island of Earth’s End in the Gardenia Isles. Once renowned for its abundance of orange groves, the islands are now mostly barren and sparsely populated. Her island was once the home of the monastery of St. Hortense, horticulturalists who devoted their work to collecting and cataloging the native plant life. Henna came to the island on the Orange Boat, an old vessel that makes the island circuit delivering mail and supplies, as an infant in a box. Old Manol, the ship’s captain, delivered the infant to inhabitants of Earth’s End, who came to be Henna’s papas; fair-skinned, artistic Niall and strong, dark-skinned Joaquim. Growing up with just her papas on the island means she is quite adept at gardening, growing, and harvesting food. Joaquim fishes while Niall paints and makes their home comfortable. Henna’s life is content until one of her papas falls critically ill. Henna consults an old island book of plants that could unlock the secret to curing him. But to prepare the cure, she must leave the island and her parents to attend St. Basil’s Conservatory School, where a secret seed repository could hold the only means to save Papa Niall. A charming and sweet story that shows what lengths a child will go to to protect the ones she loves. Henna’s journey to find a cure for her papa is poignant yet adventurous. The characters she meets along the way are diverse and entertaining, from her genderfluid friend P to the quirky staff at St. Basil’s. Yet the heart of the story lies in Henna’s devotion to her fathers and finding the strength to allow others to help her when she has only known how to fend for herself. Filled with gardening vocabulary and information, it may inspire readers to pick up a spade and grow something wonderful. Although the location is fictional, Dairman’s afterword mentions that her inspiration came from the people of the Azores Islands, off the coast of Portugal. Henna is depicted with dark hair, and light brown skin.
VERDICT Very appealing and rich with touching moments alongside innocent adventure. Readers will become friends with Henna and share in her growth while being thoroughly entertained.

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