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SUN & SPOON by Kevin Henkes

SUN & SPOON

By Kevin Henkes

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 1997
ISBN: 0-688-15232-5
Publisher: Greenwillow/HarperCollins

 Wearing his novelist's hat, Henkes (Protecting Marie, 1995, etc.) offers another meticulously crafted, quietly engaging epiphany: A 10-year-old looking for just the right memento of his recently dead grandmother finds it literally in his hands. It's been two months since Gram's funeral, and Spoon, worried about his fading memories of her, surreptitiously searches his grandparents' house for something of hers with which to anchor them. He settles at last on the deck of cards she always used for solitaire, but his twinge of guilt becomes knife- edged when Pa, his grieving grandfather, allows that he'd been taking some comfort from using those cards, and can't sleep for wondering what happened to them. Spoon finds the courage to put them back and to confess; later he discovers something better--a tracing of Gram's hand, made when she was his age, with a big M on it and the legend, ``M is always for Martha,'' which was her name. Why better? Because he finds the same M in the creases in the lines of his own palm, as well as in his younger sister's and parents' palms. Henkes deftly delineates characters and relationships with brief conversations and small personal or family rituals, folds in motifs--hands, the sun--to give the plot a pleasing rhythm, and consistently finds the perfect words to evoke each moment's sometimes-complex feelings. Like Henkes's other novels, this is more restrained in tone than his picture books, but it is infused with the same good humor, wisdom, and respect for children's hearts and minds that characterize all his works. (Fiction. 9-11)