From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-In this reassuring sequel that stands on its own, readers who worried about 10-year-old Junebug’s escape from his New Haven housing project in Junebug (Farrar, 1995) will find him starting a new school on the other side of town. He is settling into a new life with the elderly patients his mother supervises in an assisted-living group home and beginning to fulfill his dream of learning to sail. He wonders about his father, jailed long ago for armed robbery, and dreams of having the boatyard manager as a father. He worries about the bullies in his new school but stands up to them when they harass his unhappy neighbor while resisting his mother’s efforts to get him to befriend the boy. He resents his new chore, walking Reverend Ashford, one of the residents, each morning and the attention the Reverend’s son seems to be paying to his mother. An extraordinary teacher draws him and his classmates into soccer in spite of their misgivings and they all learn some rules about fair play. Mead has a sympathetic understanding of a fourth grader’s concerns and an appreciation for children’s abilities to set and achieve goals for themselves. The complexities of an interracial setting are alluded to but do not drive this story that is, at heart, a refreshing picture of an appealing and unique youngster in a community where adults take an interest in and care about children.
–Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC
Gr. 4-6. Junebug, his mother, and his sister have made it out of the projects, and he finally has the chance to realize his dream of sailing; however, Mead writes realistic novels, not fairy tales, and in this sequel, Junebug finds that his new life brings new problems. Junebug struggles to cope with the bullies at school, his mother’s new romance, and his responsibility for walking an elderly emphysema patient, the Reverend, every day. Most of all, he worries that his family, once extra close in the face of the dangerous projects, now has the freedom to explore individually and that they are drifting apart. Mead offers a portrait of a resilient, thoughtful boy, surrounding him with a number of memorable, tenderly drawn characters. Her work, whether it is set in a modern-day American city or in war-torn Kosovo (as her most recent novel, Adem’s Cross, 1996), offers children a glimpse into realistically difficult lives faced with courage, optimism, and conviction. –Susan Dove Lempke