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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
In a sidenote intended to properly describe her apparent children’s book, Life of a Firefly (illustrated exquisitely by Suzanne Groat), Sandra Brown-Lindstedt says simply and ingenuously that it is “particularly suited for ages 8–12.” I’m afraid that’s like saying To Kill A Mockingbird is at heart a children’s book just because it’s narrated by a child. So is Life of a Firefly. But the child, a young girl named Sandy Forte, is every bit the storyteller and every bit as literate as Scout. This book is every whit as powerful, as emotive, and as profoundly evocative and compelling as its more-famous classic cousin. If Life of a Firefly is just a children’s book, then I must confess to one more guilty pleasure - reading classic literature disarmingly disguised as something meant for kids.
Sandy Forte is one of the most appealing characters ever to appear in contemporary fiction and Life of a Firefly, as told by Sandra Brown-Lindstedt, is her autobiographic retelling of a childhood observed and then recalled with the scientific precision of a chemist and the wonder-saturated perspective of a sylph. The counterpoint of living with her grandmother, then her mother, then her grandmother again, provides a harsh, hard-edged reality always at the radius of her vision, filtering through to reflect upon the adult reader’s own shared, hard-won understandings. But Sandy’s sweet, pure heart (cloaked perhaps by her admittedly untamed nature) occupies the center of such privileged sharing, while she speaks to us with wit and love and a heartfelt invitation to let our own fireflies breathe and soar. A children’s book? Only if children are sages in disguise.