Children's Literature Bookshelf

“Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea,” by Lynne Rae Perkins. Greenwillow Books, New York, 2018, 232 pages, Grades 3-4.

“Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea,” by Lynne Rae Perkins.
Greenwillow Books, New York, 2018, 232 pages, Grades 3-4.

Summer vacations are times of great excitement and fun. When families go on trips together, there is plenty of time to share adventures, conversations and delicious food. Half of the wonder for children is having no idea where they are going or what they will find when they get there. But travel is its own teacher. Lynne Rae Perkins has written a pleasant book about the Treffrey family packing for a week at the beach. The two daughters, Alix and Jools do not know what to expect but leave in the early hours of the morning for the long ride to the ocean. There, like the title of this book, they learn all about the “Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea.”

Jools is the older of the girls and acts in a mature manner. She carefully plans her days and is usually in control of the situation. Though her real name is Julie, everyone in the family calls her Jools. Alix is younger and unsure of herself. She is quite adventurous and looks up to her older sister. Jools is so mature that Alix can’t imagine ever being as sophisticated as her sister. When the family arrives at the beach, they move into the lower level of a beach house owned by Mrs. Kerr. The lady has long been a widow and looks forward to renting the bottom level of her home to tourists. The next day, all of the Treffreys head to the beach. Both girls are astonished at the immensity of the ocean and the power of the waves. After a day of playing games on and in the water, they trudge home. The girls sleep next to each other and Alix likes to cuddle up next to her older sister. They take a trip to a wildlife park and begin seeing all kinds of exotic birds and animals. A raptor recovery center is next to the park and the ranger asks Alix if she would like to hold an injured peregrine falcon.

Though frightened, Alix agrees and soon holds the wrapped-up bird in her lap. Jools can’t believe the pluck of Alix. She tells her sister that she admires her bravery. Alix is staggered as she has always felt inadequate by comparison. But seeing her sister do something so courageous opens up a new world for Jools. The older girl believes that she too can show valor. This all begins at the lighthouse. What happens?

What do both of the girls learn on their vacation to the beach? How can people grow by trying new and daring things? Have you ever done something that you didn’t know you could do? How did that make you feel better about yourself? Why do both girls learn the value of friendship and courage on this vacation? To find out, go to the library and check out this warm and caring book, “Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea” by Lynne Rae Perkins.

Perkins won the Newbery Medal for “Criss Cross” in 2006. Often times, she focuses on adolescent and pre-adolescent characters trying to work out issues in their lives. The author has clearly written this book from the perspective of girls. We see these young girls facing challenges and taking risks. All the while, their parents are there to guide them through these undertakings. Perkins has written a warm and emotional story of the Treffrey girls growing in confidence in themselves and love for each other. Primary grade girls especially will be drawn to this title. Perkins creates a secure environment in which the characters face themselves and the world around them. “Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea” is a pleasant book that should be satisfying for readers. Enjoy!

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