Foreword Reviews

Return to Coney Island

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

Return to Coney Island is an imaginative story that will transport readers to the historical Coney Island with its young protagonists.

Melissa Stoller’s juvenile fantasy Return to Coney Island entertainingly combines family stories, a recipe for apple crisp, and a very special snow globe for an appealing first installment to a new series.

While examining a snow globe in their Nana’s curio cabinet, nine-year-old twins Emma and Simon are transported to Coney Island in 1928. There, they meet their great-grandmother Jessie and her two sisters. They follow Jessie in the hopes of witnessing the magical moment when their great-grandparents first met on a trolley; when it seems that things may not go according to the story they have grown up with, they act quickly to try to correct what has gone wrong.

The book is appropriate for early readers, with easy-to-understand language and an uncomplicated but imaginative plot organized nicely into ten short chapters. There is not a great deal of character development, but Emma and Simon are both pleasant and appealing leads. Supporting characters are more generic, but they serve the story well.

Emma and Simon’s time-traveling adventure is the heart of the book. It is creatively and enjoyably rendered, with a bit of mystery and a magical transition from the present to the past. It opens a delightful window into historical Coney Island, capturing its exciting rides, fun games, and delicious foods.

Black-and-white illustrations set rudimentary figures against a variety of backgrounds, including altered photographs of the Coney Island boardwalk and a trolley car. These are visually interesting, if unnecessary, additions that offer a glimpse into the past, but the figures within the illustrations are awkwardly placed. There is also a photo of the actual Jessie and her husband, Jack.

The final chapter of the book has Simon and Emma noticing another snow globe in their grandmother’s cabinet. This sets up the next installment in the series and effectively creates a desire to return to the world the author has created.

Thoughtful discussion questions, a recipe for the apple crisp made in the story, and instructions for making a snow globe are included at the end of the book. They are age appropriate and fun, enabling readers to stretch their imaginations and engage in activities that bring the story more to life.

Return to Coney Island is an imaginative story that will transport readers to the historical Coney Island with its young protagonists.

Reviewed by Catherine Thureson

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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