Book Review | “Call Me Amy” by Marcia Strykowski – a #middlegrade coming-of age story set amidst the rescue of a baby seal

Posted Tuesday, 7 October, 2014 by jorielov , , , 7 Comments

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Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski
Published By: Luminis Books (@LuminisBooks) | Blog
Official Author WebsitesSite | @MarciaStry | GoodReads

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #CallMeAmy, #middlegrade, & #KidLit

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Amy’s Choice” virtual book tour through JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. As this was the second novel in a book series, I was able to put in a request to receive the first novel Call Me Amy of which I received a complimentary copy of direct from the publisher Luminis Books without obligation to review. I received my complimentary copy of Amy’s Choice direct from JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I am always on the hunt for wicked quality Children’s Literature – stories which carve out a special niche of childhood innocence and the mirth of exploring how to find growth through life experiences. I want to find even more stories than I had as a young child myself – striving to find the writers who keep the tone of their novels radiating with light and the darkness can be erased through the resolutions at the ending of any conflict that a character needs to overcome. I like finding stories which give children a free sense about how to differentiate between right and wrong, whilst allowing them the grievance for understanding there is a measure of wisdom in living through our mistakes, our misunderstandings, and our ability to be humbled through adversity. I like stories that break down barriers and also serve to teach a lesson of stewardship and diplomacy. When I first saw this series going on tour on behalf of the publisher’s showcase, I simply knew that I wanted to take part and high shine a light on two stories that would benefit any library of a child or adult who appreciates the same types of stories I am passionately addicted to myself.

Book Review | “Call Me Amy” by Marcia Strykowski – a #middlegrade coming-of age story set amidst the rescue of a baby sealCall Me Amy
by Marcia Strykowski
Source: Publisher via JKS Communications

For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely and uneventful year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, who slinks around in an oversized army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids, who catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing.

Call Me Amy was selected for the Best Children’s Book List by Bank Street College of Education.
For readers aged 9 & up.
Published by Luminis Books, 2013.

Genres: Children's Literature, Middle Grade

Places to find the book:

Also by this author: Amy's Choice

Series: Amy,

Also in this series: Amy's Choice

Published by Luminis Books

on 15th May, 2013

Format: Paperback

Pages: 176

Author Biography:

Marcia Strykowski

Marcia Strykowski works at a public library. Earlier, between earning her BS in Fine Arts and raising her children, she worked for seven years in textbook publishing. Marcia participates in writing groups and enjoys family, art, music, travel, and theater. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. After numerous magazine and anthology contributions, CALL ME AMY was Marcia’s first novel. It was chosen for the 2014 Bank Street College of Education’s prestigious Best Books of the Year list. AMY’S CHOICE, a sequel to CALL ME AMY, is now available. You can find out more about her and her books at

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Maine : as a setting:

Northern New England always held an appeal for a girl like me who grew up on a state known for it’s panhandle, fierce fire of a sun, and the fact that at the southern most tip of her state you could wave to Cuba! I kid you not. Being as far South as you muster an interest to live, I oft wondered what it would be like to live somewhere blissfully different – where the changing seasons outweighed the blight of walking through volcanic heat and where you could snuggle into a season rather than being fearful of the extreme storm warning alerts blasting off your tv, radio, and reverse 911 phone messages. Anywhere where the pace of life wasn’t contingent upon tourism or at least wasn’t as blatant about flaunting that it was would even be a wickeder place by far. To settle into the texture of a place rather than the presumptions of a state’s reputation always felt ideal; where you could absorb into the curiousness nature of it’s townes, and visit with locals who would always have a hearty conversation to share.

For me, it was simply the fact that the Northern states were as far away from the Southern hemisphere as you could wrangle yourself without leaving the United States completely! All the top tier states flitted through my imagination as being the most seriously awesome place to live throughout my life, due to their hugged close nature of being a stepping stone into Canada. And, Canada to me was always the most unique place I could readily visit without needing to cross the North Atlantic and brave the high seas over a jaunt in a plane.

The whispering assurances that this novel is set in Maine is a credit to a writer who happens to call New England home herself. She has carefully etched a sounding stone of believability into how the setting is conveyed and how unique it is to call Coastal Maine home. I’ll admit that short visits are not enough to fully eclipse what is there to be found. It is a unique stretch of coastline that ebbs you further into it’s graces the more you go up and down Route 1. The road which angles and stretches itself from the upper lip of Massachusetts and zips you into New Brunswick outside of Eastport; the city which produces my absolute favourite brand of stone ground mustard!

My Review of Call Me Amy:

The opening pages of Call Me Amy took me back to my first visit to Mid-Coast Maine, as I spent a bit of time around the area where Thomaston is located. My favourite memory of Thomaston is getting to see National Treasure whilst only paying $5 dollars for the ticket, a large popcorn, and a drink! I was properly gobsmacked you could get away with that price as even though it was the mid-2000s the prices were far steeper down in the Southeast! To the brink that going to see the film was the true joy over the snacks. The atmosphere of that cinemas was friendly with an old fashioned way of putting you at ease as soon as you walked through the door! Set around a backdrop of a rock manufacture across the street, the ocean not too much further past it – you had a unique impression of going to see a film was anything but ordinary in this small coastal towne! Being able to chat ahead of the show, munching on popcorn and getting free refills for your drink and popcorn prior to being seated was the supreme best! I think I was akin to Mum realising that we both felt that “we were somewhere wicked good” at the moment, as getting refills on snacks isn’t as easy back home. We loved the interpersonal touches and the manner in which we felt welcomed ‘home’ rather than being ‘from away’; we bonded over a deep passion for cinema and for the actors who create the stories we love to watch. It should always be as keen to go to the movies and I never forgot how much I ached to see National Treasure 2 up in Maine rather than back from where I had came.

I could relate directly to Amy’s sense of wonder about reading and the necessity of longing for a library located close to home. I was thankful I had branches throughout the cities and townes I lived in as a child for having locations within a commutable distance of where my house was located. Never close enough to walk too as everything was so spread out and in some ways, I could relate to her angst about always needing to travel a bit of distance to do what you wanted to do most. I do not think she realised though how blessed she was that she could walk outside her front door and easily walk to most of the places she wanted to visit regularly. There is a thread of narrative inside the story that reminded me a heap of the tv film Polly which was based around Pollyanna. Celeste Holm played an incredible role in bringing to life Miss Snow and I was equally captivated by another character inside the film Because of Winn-Dixie: Gloria Dump. Centrally important to the growth of the young characters in each of these stories is having the strength of an unexpected teacher, advisor, and mentor. My heart swelled with joy seeing how Strykowski knitted Miss Cogshell into the heart of Call Me Amy.

Amy’s voice in the novel is bang-on brilliant for her age in the story, as her curiosity and inquisitiveness about her life and the world around her comes out strongly perceptive. Her heart is open to the possibilities that first impressions are not always as receptively accurate as you first think they would be as much as she cares for those who are in need. I enjoyed watching her slowly emerge out of her shell once she had a project she could focus on that was outside of her own worries and insecurities. Amy starts to see the intricate balance of life, how staying true to who you are is key, and how being open to learning from misunderstandings enriches the spirit of who you become.

On the writing style of Marcia Strykowski:

I slipped into this novel as easily as I used to curl into the sofa to watch Flipper or Thunder Bay, a true note of appreciation goes to Strykowski for re-creating a soft-spoken story filled with lessons of life stitched into each page of Call Me Amy. The best blessing of all is that it is writ in such a voice as to fill your own mind with the reverie of your own growing years as much as a curious nod to places you’ve visited as an adult. She is the kind of gentle story-teller I would have felt wicked happy to have stumbled across as a nine year old and in full mirth of happiness to await each new release she would continue to pen!

I always liked feeling as though I was taking a journey within an adventure with a character who was sorting out who they were whilst defining how they wanted to grow into their own skin. Call Me Amy is a strong story for children who are seeking the same stories I was at the ages I did not always find I had a lot to pull off the shelf. Especially considering her attention to detailed descriptions and bolting a firm image into your mind about her quirky characters, gave me the most pleasure joy whilst reading the novel overall! I love finding writers who can etch alive their settings and characters for children with such wicked loveliness as to paint everything true blue to real life!

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Stay tuned!

Next I will be sharing my thoughts on: {review}

Amy's Choice by Marcia Strykowski

Call Me Amy Book Trailer via Marcia Strykowski

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This blog tour stop is courtesy of:

JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm

Virtual Road Map of “Luminis Books” Blog Tour found here:

{ click to discover all the books being featured }

Luminis Books Blog Tour with JKS Communications See what I will be hosting next with:

JKS Communications Literary Publicity FirmBy visiting my Bookish Events page!

I positively *love!* comments in the threads below each of my posts, and as CommentLuv only requires Email to leave a note for me I cannot wait to see what starts to populate below! Kindly know that I appreciate each thought you want to share with me and all the posts on my blog are open to new comments & commentary! Short or long, I appreciate the time you spent to leave behind a note of your visit! Return again soon!

{SOURCES: The tour badge was provided by JKS Communications and used with permission. Book Cover Art for “Call Me Amy” & “Amy’s Choice”, Author Biography & Book Synopsis provided by the author Marcia Strykowski and used with permission. The book trailer for “Call Me Amy” had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it.Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. #KidsLitBlogHop badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

The ‘live reading’ tweets I shared as I read & reviewed “Call Me Amy”:

{ favourite & Re-tweet if inspired to share }

Comments on Twitter:


(on 6th February, 2015)

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie


Posted Tuesday, 7 October, 2014 by jorielov in 20th Century, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Book Trailer, Bookish Films, Bullies and the Bullied, Children's Literature, Coming-Of Age, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Geographically Specific, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Maine, Middle Grade Novel, Rescue & Adoption of Animals, School Life & Situations, Siblings, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, The Seventies, Young Adult Fiction

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7 responses to “Book Review | “Call Me Amy” by Marcia Strykowski – a #middlegrade coming-of age story set amidst the rescue of a baby seal

  1. Jorie, this book sounds wonderful :) I mean, if it’s anything like Because of Winn-Dixie it has to be good! The comments in the trailer were quite something too! Thanks for the review, my dear :)

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms Donna!

      Actually, I had left out one film that also came happily back to mind “Hoot” which is why I included it in a tweet instead! I realise I could have edited it into the review itself, but then, I felt it might be unbalanced as I liked what I had said about the other films! :) Ooh, you are quite on the ticket — Because of Winn-Dixie (the film) evoked so many wonderful emotions inside me (always meant to read the novel btw), that I am always eagerly hoping to re-discover another story that can pull forward the same experience! Ooh, yes, wasn’t the book trailer just smashing? Held the true spirit of the book inside it – which is why I let it run without commentary! :) Cheers!

      • Oh, Jorie, I WAS referring to the book! I really wasn’t crazy about the movie adaptation. The book is SO much better! You can’t truly capture on film the qualities of a Kate DiCamillo novel. You HAVE to read the book!!! :D

        • To be honest, the film meant so much to my parents & I when we had seen it, I cannot totally agree with this observation, because we quite literally felt so emotionally attached to the characters and to the heart of the story, it felt as real to us as if the circumstances were bonefide real life adaptations! In fact, so much so, we always think quite happily on having our own “Because of Winn-Dixie” extended family one day; as the benefits of having such close connections to your neighbours and community members is such a beautiful lift of joy for us to dream about; we do have a bit of this now, but ooh! To have a house party like the one featured at the end of the film!?

          I do have the novel but it’s currently in a box somewhere, so at some point I will read it but it was one of those times where I opted for the film rather than miss a heart-warming family film altogether. There aren’t as many being made these days, so when we find one we like to support it. I do admit a lot of books that are adapted to film have creative liberties taken in the process, but when I find one as well-produced and written as this one, I stand behind the film. To me, books & films are not equal but two halves of a whole; I respect both mediums.

          Ironically or not, I couldn’t finish reading The Tale of Despereaux, as I gave it away to a friend, keeping only the bookmark as it was based on the film’s version. The film on the other hand was very well executed and I preferred the film’s story over the book for which I honestly could not recommend for anyone to read. To me it pushed too many barriers of what I felt do not need to be broached. Therefore, I’ve always been on the fence if I should read Because of Winn-Dixie or not; as I have a feeling I might prefer her work in film adaptation.

    • Hallo, Hallo Ms. Strykowski!

      I was most delighted to see you on my blog earlier this afternoon! :) You’re quite welcome — I couldn’t wait to share my absolute joy in discovering your writing style & the beautiful gift of stories you’re giving to the next generations! I love this entire world of Children’s Literature, and seeking out the writers who truly understand the tone of stories I appreciate is always a bit of an adventure! Finding two books in a row by the same author is a big blessing! Ooh, yes, I could not help but feel the warmth of Maine and the joy I had whilst being there! I was so lost in my reverie for childhood too — Amy grew up in a very similar fashion as I had, and so the joy was truly mine today!

      • Ah, I see what you mean. When you see a film first, you don’t have the book to compare it too so you’re able to enjoy it as its own entity. I read the book first and was more moved by the book, so that’s why I feel that way. I’m not sure what it was about “Despereaux” that you struggled with, but I loved that book. The one time I feel more strongly about a movie than a book is with “The Wizard of Oz.” I adore the movie in so many ways, but hated when I read the book.

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