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Mystery, Wildlife Rights, and Coming of Age in Florida!

Gasparilla's Gold - Sandra Markle

Twelve-year-old Gus has been sent to live with his aunt on a Florida wildlife refuge after the family suffers from the loss of his older brother, but it's just one more change in a life filled with new things: an absent brother, the sale of their Manhattan home, and his father's relocation to Seattle.

 

But some things don't change: his fears about the unfamiliar and unpredictable world and the memories of his brother, which can arise from even innocuous life events like being caught in the rain.

 

Middle grade readers follow Gus as he encounters the unfamiliar at every step: bats, coyotes, a spunky girl named Fiona, and an aunt who reveres the wildlife she lives amongst.

 

About halfway through the book, Gus begins to realize where he really belongs - just as he's on the cusp of leaving. Add a mystery revolving around wild animals, rancher rights, the plight of the vanishing Florida panther to the saga of a boy beginning to realize his place in the world and you have a story line filled with courage and confrontation.  Sandra Markle weaves a compelling story that holds many different attractions, promising to interest high/low readers who enjoy mysteries and animal tales couched in the attraction of powerful personalities.