TURTLES OF THE MIDNIGHT MOON, by María José Fitzgerald, Knopf Books for Young Readers, March 14, 2023, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 8-12)
Two girls team up to save endangered leatherback turtles in Turtles of the Midnight Moon, a middle-grade novel by María José Fitzgerald.
Twelve-year-old Barana lives in a coastal village in Honduras, where she spends every spare minute visiting the sea turtles that nest on the beach.
Abby is feeling adrift in sixth grade, trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs after her best friend moved away from New Jersey.
When Abby’s papi plans a work trip to Honduras, she is finally given the opportunity to see his homeland—with Barana as her tour guide. But Barana has other plans: someone has been poaching turtle eggs, and she’s determined to catch them! Before long, Abby and Barana are both consumed by the mystery, chasing down suspects, gathering clues, and staking out the beach in the dead of night. . . . Will they find a way to stop the poachers before it’s too late?
A heart-pounding mystery with a hint of magic, María José Fitzgerald’s debut novel explores the power of friendship, community, and compassion to unite all living creatures. —Synopsis provided by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Turtles of the Midnight Moon is told from the alternating viewpoints of Abby and Barana. The two girls are opposites in many ways — Abby is quiet and contemplative, and Barana is passionate and bold. But they are both thoughtful and creative and have firm ideas against injustices. It’s the perfect pairing.
Author María José Fitzgerald beautifully mixes English and Spanish, providing non-Spanish speakers with enough context to understand while pushing them to see beyond the known. This sets the tone for the entire book.
Equally as lovely is Fitzgerald’s descriptions. She transports readers to the humid lands of Honduras. The animals, ocean, wilds and food call all senses.
Turtles of the Midnight Moon is a lovely, character-driven contemporary novel of friendship, family and being at one with nature. It’s a great choice as we gear up for the winter season in the United States.
*Turtles of the Midnight Moon is a Cybils-nominated book. This review is my opinion and not the opinion of the middle-grade fiction panel as a whole.
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