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Henkes, Kevin.
New York : Greenwillow, 2003.
IL 5-8, RL 6.6
ISBN 006053544X
(3 booktalks)
Booktalk #1

Martha is looking forward to spending the summer at her grandmother's house at the ocean.  But then came the knock on the door.  A woman who Martha didn't know is standing there.  The woman is Olive Barstow's mother.  Olive has died and in her journal, she wrote about Martha and how she wanted to be friends with her.  Martha hardly knew Olive and wonders why Olive would want to be her friend.  Throughout the summer at the beach, Martha explores her feelings for Olive, for her grandmother who may be dying and the people next door.

Booktalk #2

“She is the nicest person in my whole entire class.”  That's what Olive wrote about me in her journal.  The page her mother handed to me on my front doorstep before thanking me and walking away. My name is Martha. I knew who Olive was, but I didn't really know her.  Now I won't be able to.  She's dead.  Killed in a bike accident at 12.  And I'm stuck here at my grandmother's house on the ocean for summer vacation.  Olive wanted to see the ocean.  Why would she write about me?   She also wanted to be a writer.  I do too.  It’s weird how much we have… or had in common.  I wonder if she would think the same about other things that I think about too, like about growing old and boys?  I wonder.  Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes.  (Meg Torrens,, Palmetto Bays Elementary, Myrtle Beach SC)

Booktalk #3

“We could have been friends. We could have been but at first she was shy and now she is gone. Olive Barstow was hit by a car Monroe Street while riding her bicycle weeks ago.  Her mother delivered her journal to me. A journal filled with her secrets of wanting to be a writer, to see the ocean, her wanting to get to know Martha Boyle, which happens to be me, and wanting to write an emotional book instead of neither adventure nor mystery. She wanted to be my friend. She had the same dream as me, but now she is gone. And after learning these things I can’t stop thinking of her. A family summer on Cape Cod should fix things but they seep in everywhere just like the ocean. And this year there is more drama here than ever with the Manning boys.” (Martha talking) 

This 2004 Newbery Award book by Kevin Henkes called Olive’s Ocean is deceptively simple with topics like values, honesty, guilt, mortality, trust, family, ambition, and mush more. Olive’s Ocean is a Contemporary realistic fiction using many coming of age themes. In this book Martha the protagonist will learn how to deal with her first confrontation with romance, betrayal, and death. As time goes on Martha learns and grows. Learn how much she grows by reading Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes.  (Amanda Wilson,,  college student)

SUBJECTS:     Grandmothers -- Fiction.
                        Family life -- Fiction.
                        Self-perception -- Fiction.


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