Monday, September 16, 2013
by Anjaki Banerjee
Wendy Lamb Books, 2010
2014 Bluestem Nominee
Format: Chapter Book
Audience: Grades 3 to 5
Publication Date: May 11, 2010
Poppy Ray has decided that she will be a veterinarian, despite having never had any kind of a pet before. While her parents travel back to India to visit family for the summer, Poppy goes to stay with her Uncle Sanjay who is a vet on a small island off the Washington coast. Her summer will be full of new experiences, both good and bad, as she learns what it really means to be a vet-that you heal not only animals, but people as well.
This is a short, simple book that will resonate with some readers, although might be troubling for others. Those that hate "dead dog books" will have a hard time dealing with the injuries and neglect seen in Sanjay's clinic, but it is honest.
Since this is a short book, the characters feel a little stock. Poppy is likeable enough, although she does seem awfully whiny, and a bit of a know-it-all, especially at the beginning. Uncle Sanjay is a little deeper and the reader learns more about him from his interactions with others than from his own dialogue. The clinic workers are predictable, and Hawk is a serviceable friend, although the plot line in which he denounces Poppy seems unnecessary.
Readers will cheer when Poppy is able to use her new skills to save Stu toward the end, and many will be impressed with her growth. As a Bluestem, it's alright. It's a quieter book that will be easily overlooked and I don't see it breaking into the top ten.
In a totally forced connection, the setting had me thinking back to Winger. Odd isn't it how two outrageously different books can have a common thread?
For young readers looking for an honest look at being a vet (because don't 80% of girls at some point dream of being a vet?), Seaglass Summer will give them enough action to decide of this is a true calling or a fad obsession.