Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
A summer on an idyllic island surrounded by water and wildlife. What could possibly go wrong?
When eleven-year-old Becca returns to her grandmother’s rustic cottage for another summer, she finds herself seeing her beloved island in new ways. A hunting owl mistakes a bobbing ponytail for prey. A cozy sleepover on the beach takes on the tinges of a nightmare when a family of river otters shows up to claim their territory. An argument between a nestbound baby eaglet and its haranguing mother reaches operatic dimensions. Becca finds a dead bear on the beach and helps to give it a burial at sea.
Then there are dramas of the human variety. Aunt Meg is grieving over a miscarriage, and Aunt Clare’s medical work in Africa has brought on a sadness that even the love of family and the island’s beauty can’t cure. And there is the burning question of whether Aunt Fifi and the local plumber will ever become an item, and would that mean losing the only plumber on the island?
Meanwhile, cousin Alicia claims to be too old to participate in the kids’ summer project — a performance of The Tempest, a play that seems to find unsettling echoes in the natural surroundings Becca thought she knew so well.
Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts:
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.
Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges or how the speaker in a poem reflects upon a topic; summarize the text.
Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
About the author
Deirdre Baker has taught children's literature throughout Canada and the U.S. and currently teaches in the English department at the University of Toronto. She is the co-author (with Ken Setterington) of A Guide to Canadian Children's Books as well as Follow That Broomstick: A Guide to the Best Fantasy Literature for Young Readers (co-authored with Michele Landsberg). Deirdre lives in Toronto, Ontario, but spends her summers on Hornby Island, the setting for Becca at Sea.
Excerpt: Becca Fair and Foul (by (author) Deirdre Baker)
The bear’s legs and paws were stretched out as if it had flopped down to relax on the beach.
But, Becca thought, it wasn’t relaxed. It was completely — she couldn’t even think of a word. Helpless? And so alone! It looked utterly dependent on the kindness of strangers for respectful treatment.
And it had a face. That was bothersome, really…
“It doesn’t seem right to leave it on the beach,” Becca said, even though part of her wanted to walk away and never come back…
“We should bury it,” she said. “We should give it a decent burial.”