Title: Olive’s Ocean
Author: Kevin Henkes
Publisher: Harper Childrens
Awards: Newberry Honor Book, Virginia Young Readers Award
Publication Date: 2003
Genre: Young Adult
Audience: Gr. 6+

Overview: When we meet Martha, she is bewildered by a journal entry from her schoolmate, Olive, whose untimely death makes Martha reevaluate and reconsider her place in the world. During her summer vacation she is challenged by the actions and reactions of those around her. By the end of the summer will she find true meaning of Olive’s Ocean?

Note: Olive’s Ocean is a challenging book, so please read this book prior to suggesting it to young children. There is a small amount of adult language used by the older male characters in this story. Martha’s reaction to the language as well as other characters reactions makes it clear that the adult language is inappropriate. The author uses this language in careful consideration of the story line in an appropriate manner to move the story along. Some readers may find the language offensive, however, I believe many children will identify with Martha and benefit from this thought-provoking coming of age story.

Activity: Collect a bunch of clear plastic bottles. Mix food coloring in water to create a rainbow of colors. Place them in windows and look at the rainbows. Was it what you expected? Better? Worse? Why?

Reviewer’s Name: Darby Hewes