Island Girl

Maine Books, Piper Green, Ellen Potter, Down East Magazine

Piper Green lives a second grader’s ordinary life in an extraordinary place.

[Y]ou’ve met little girls like Piper Green: precocious, opinionated, possessing a flair for the dramatic — and instantly likeable. The star of a new series for young readers by Ellen Potter, Piper lives on a Maine island, a fact she establishes right off the bat in both Piper Green and the Fairy Tree and Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Too Much Good Luck (Alfred A. Knopf; hardcover, $14.99 each): “There are two things you should know about Peek-a-Boo Island,” the second grader asserts. “1. All the kids on the island ride a lobster boat to school. 2. There is a Fairy Tree on my front lawn.”

The author of several middle-grade novels, Ellen Potter moved to Castine three years ago where, she told us in an email, she fell in love with the culture of the midcoast. Potter knows kids, and (the too-cutesy name of Piper’s island notwithstanding) she knows Maine islands. She reveals the peculiarities of these isolated communities through the matter-of-fact storytelling of Piper, who doesn’t realize it’s unusual to take a boat to school, because your island is too small to have a school of its own, or to have a friend whose hands “smell like stinky dead fish all the time” because he stuffs bait bags for his lobsterman dad.

Against this backdrop of island eccentricities, Piper leads an otherwise everyday life: in the first book, she wears her brother’s earmuffs around the clock (she has her reasons); in the second, she’s unlucky enough to have a lucky streak. The stories are simple, whimsical, and relatable to kids everywhere.

Virginia M. Wright

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