From Pajama Press:
It will come to pass
that a stranger from the sea
The locals in Felicity Bay shake their heads at the ice cream man’s prophecy. “Crazy old Jasper,” they say. But Bailey isn’t so sure. She has found something special down at the beach: a driftwood mermaid, a gift washed up from a storm. Could she be the stranger from the sea who has come to change everything? Bailey hopes so. Because this summer, she could sure use a miracle.
Bailey and her younger brother are spending the summer in Felicity Bay with their estranged grandmother, while their parents are away at marriage camp. It will take a miracle to keep them together. And even though she wishes she was at home with her parents, she begins to find her place among the people of Felicity Bay, making friends with the neighbour boy Daniel and the town prophet Jasper. But Daniel’s lungs don’t work the way they should and Jasper is accused of a crime Bailey is sure he didn’t commit. It seems even more miracles are needed in Felicity Bay. Then Jasper predicts that a stranger from the sea will change everything. When a mermaid-shaped piece of driftwood washes up on shore, Bailey is convinced this is the stranger who will bring her the miracles she needs.
Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles by Shari Green is just delightful. Told in free verse, there aren’t a lot of words on the page, but every one is carefully chosen and used to great effect. Green’s writing has whimsy and heart without being heavy-handed, adding to the magical setting of Felicity Bay. It makes you feel that, yes, miracles can happen in this place.
Bailey is a narrator I’m sure will resonate with young readers. She’s imaginative, kind and hopeful, and she stands up for what she believes is right. And she isn’t the only character in this book to grab my attention. I adored Daniel, Bailey’s friend from next door. He’s suffering from cystic fibrosis but he doesn’t let it slow him down. It’s clear that he’s aware of his prognosis, and the moments when Bailey becomes aware too are just heartbreaking, but he is so ready to take on life and squeeze every ounce of joy out of it. Daniel always made me smile. And the beach of Felicity Bay is a character in itself, alive and vibrant. You can practically smell the sea air coming off the page.
There is a lot more talk about religion in this book than I would have thought, but I appreciate that the focus is on having faith—faith that things will be okay even when it looks like everything is about to fall apart—rather than finding capital “F” Faith. It keeps the story accessible regardless of the reader’s religious beliefs.
Whimsical, hopeful and at times bittersweet, I highly recommend Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5 hearts)