The Islands of Elsewhere

Penguin/Rocky Pond. Jun. 2023. 224p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593530528.
Gr 3-7–The Snolly sisters—Hattie (12), Bee (10), and Plum (8), their mom, baby brother, Theodore (Dore) and their one-eyed cat, Mab, are visiting Grandaddy for the summer in Misty Cove, where his house sits on the edge of a low bluff overlooking the sea. The girls want to explore the nearby mysterious Fairy Islands, which are shrouded in ghostly and fairy stories. Their mother, however, is concerned about Grandaddy’s health, and his memory issues. The girls learn Granddaddy’s own grandmother, Lucy Juniper, is the root of these tales of fairies, buried treasure, and pirates. Rainstorm, the waitress at the Octopus, Octopus, Octopus cafe (serving all things octopus including milkshakes) says the Fairy Islands are the source of magic, as they are caught between land and sea. The girls concoct a plan to find the treasure, so they can all move to Misty Cove and help care for their grandfather. Each sister has a unique strength; botany-loving Bee has her treasured green backpack, “Misdirection,” which contains everything useful; Hattie is adept at making sand sculptures and hopes to win money in a contest; costume-wearing Plum is sure she is seeing ghosts and fairies; and Dore can make animal sounds from cats to seals. Relatable issues are presented honestly, including sibling issues, divorced parents co-parenting, and aging grandparents.
VERDICT With well-developed characters, this will have readers rooting for a solution to Granddaddy’s problems, while savoring the slightly spooky, heart-thumping fairy tale.

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