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A Handful of Stars Reprint Edition
Contributor(s): Lord, Cynthia
ISBN: 0545700280     ISBN-13: 9780545700283
Publisher: Scholastic Pr
    OUR PRICE: $6.29  
Product Type: Paperback
Published: May 2017
When Lily's blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it's Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season.

After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily's grandfather, and Salma's friendship transforms Lily's summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they'll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant -- and possibly win?

Set amongst the blueberry barrens and by the sea, this is a gorgeous new novel by Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord that tackles themes of prejudice and friendship, loss and love.

Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Migrant labor; Fiction.
Hispanic Americans; Fiction.
Blind dogs; Fiction.
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Issues | Friendship
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Issues | Prejudice & Racism
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: bl2017018030
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 7.75" H x 5.25" W x 0.50" (0.29 lbs) 184 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 174049
Reading Level: 4.4   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 5.0
Scholastic Reading Counts Info
Quiz #: Q66020
Reading Level: 4.3   Interest Level: Grades 3-5   Point Value: 9.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s):
Cynthia Lord is the award-winning author of Rules, a Newbery Honor Book and a Schneider Family Book Award winner, as well as the critically acclaimed Half a Chance and A Handful of Stars. She made her picture-book debut with Hot Rod Hamster, which won several awards, including the Parents' Choice Award, and is the author of the Shelter Pet Squad chapter book series. She lives in Maine with her family. Visit her at

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Fall)
Small-town Mainer Lily and migrant worker Salma become fast friends, bonding over Lily's blind dog, Lucky. Lily wants to earn money for surgery for Lucky; Salma wants to win the local Blueberry Queen pageant. Both support each other's plans despite the obstacles (the operation is risky; "outsiders" never enter the pageant) in this warm-hearted, thoughtfully written tale of a memorable friendship.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2015 March #4)

It is a summer of change for 12-year-old Lily, who lives with her grandparents above their general store in rural Maine. Having grown apart from her boy-obsessed best friend and coping with her dog's increasing blindness, Lily finds a kindred spirit in Salma, whose migrant family works in the local blueberry fields. One constant in Lily's life is her longing for her absent mother, whose personality and fate Lord (Half a Chance) reveals measuredly. Salma, too, is grieving, having lost her own dog and many friends due to her family's frequent moves. Lord links images beautifully: Lily shows Salma how the fluted top of a blueberry resembles a star, and Salma confides that she is comforted knowing that the stars overhead are the same ones shining on her loved ones far away. Salma's artistic creativity and gumption awaken Lily to the power of imagination, the importance of embracing change and knowing when to let go of the past, and the rewards of venturing beyond one's comfort zone. Ages 8–12. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (May)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2015 June)

Gr 4–6—Two girls from seemingly different backgrounds bond over a blind dog and blueberries in Lord's latest heartwarmer. Lily lives in Maine, raised by her maternal grandparents, Mémère and Pépère. Her black lab, Lucky, is her strongest connection to her deceased mother. Lucky is slowly going blind and Lily is determined to raise money for an expensive and risky eye surgery to cure him; she paints wooden mason bee houses and sells them in her grandparent's general store. Salma is in Maine for the summer with her family, migrant workers who live and work in the blueberry barrens. Lucky unexpectedly brings the girls together and they immediately bond over their love of dogs, art, and blueberry enchiladas. Salma is creative and artistic, something that Lily both admires and envies. When Salma decides to enter the Blueberry Queen pageant—something no migrant girl has ever done before—Lily's eyes are opened to the microaggressions of some of the townsfolk. There's also the surprising support from Hannah, Lily's former best friend and reigning Blueberry Queen, who offers to loan Salma a gown. Through her friendship with Salma, the protagonist finds a confidence she didn't know she had and she begins to recognize and question her own previously unexamined biases. Despite the slim page count, this middle grade novel's plot evolves organically. Lord's characters reveal themselves slowly within the narrative and the Maine setting is richly described. The bright cover featuring an adorable black lab is pure shelfbait; though readers looking for a animal tale will instead find a story that centers more on family, friendship, and growing pains. VERDICT A thoughtful work that examines cultural bias and will spark discussion.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

[Page 101]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.