Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Firefly Hollow

Firefly Hollow

Alison McGhee
Illustrator:  Christopher Denise 
For ages 8 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2015   ISBN: 978-1442423367

Firefly Hollow is home to many creatures. These include the fireflies, the crickets, a vole, and a family of giants, which is what the animals call humans. For generations the youngsters of the firefly, cricket, and vole nations have all been taught to always stay away from giants, for giants will surely harm them if they are given half a chance to do so. The youngsters are held in check by the rules the adults of their kind teach them, and they are expected to comply with these rules.

From a very young age Firefly has not been very good at following rules. She wants to learn how to fly before she is equipped to do so, and once she learns how to use her wings she is not content to stay close to home as the other young fireflies do. She is also not content to fly in an orderly manner. Instead, Firefly loves to push herself by flying upside down and by doing acrobatics in the air. She wants to see what lies beyond the hollow tree that the fireflies call home. She wants to watch the giants and hopes one day to go to the moon, which she knows the giants have done.

Cricket, though perhaps not as overtly different the way Firefly is, also chooses to do things his own way. He is not content to only sing the songs that the crickets have been singing for many seasons. Cricket has taught himself how to sing Take me out to the ball game, which the miniature giant used sing with his friend. Every day Cricket goes down to the river, far from his fellow crickets, to sing his song. He hopes that one day he will learn how to catch like a real baseball player.

Vole is the last of his kind. When he was young a huge wave of water swept away all his kin, and since then he has been teaching himself all the skills he needs to have to sail his little boat away from the place where he grew up. He longs to go down the river and to go to the place where the river meets the sea.

Firefly has heard Cricket sing, and Cricket has watched Firefly do her figure eights and her loop-the-loops at dusk; they know that they have something in common. One night Firefly decides to go further than she has ever gone to seek out Cricket. When they meet they both accept each other just as they are. Cricket might not understand why Firefly wants to go to the moon, and Firefly may not understand Cricket’s dream of catching, but they both understand that dreams are precious.

Soon after they meet the two young insects set off to watch the miniature giant, who is a little boy called Peter. Peter hears the two young insects talking and to their amazement they discover that Peter not only notices them, but he can also hears and understand them. The lonely little boy is delighted to get to know the unique little insects and a remarkable friendship begins to grow between them. They never imagine that their friendship will end up changing all their lives in incredible ways.

In this memorable book a rich story is paired with beautiful and evocative illustrations to give young readers a tale that they will read again and again. This celebration of self and friendship is timeless.