My first children’s book, published by Farrar Straus Giroux, is finally out! It’s the story of a girl from the city, a dog, a troublemaker, a stolen sailboat, a treasure map—and one unpredictable, life-changing summer adventure.
Twelve-year-old Maria lives a lonely, latchkey-kid’s life in the Bronx. Her Lebanese mother is working two nursing jobs to keep them afloat, and Maria keeps her worries to herself, not wanting to be a burden. Then something happens one day between home and school that changes everything. Mom whisks them to an altogether different world on Martha’s Vineyard, where she’s found a job on a seaside estate. While the mysterious bedridden owner—a former film director—keeps her mother busy, Maria has the freedom to explore a place she thought could only exist in the movies. Making friends with a troublesome local character, Maria finds an old sailboat that could make a marvelous clubhouse. She also stumbles upon an old map that she is sure will lead to pirate’s plunder—but golden treasure may not be the most valuable thing she discovers for herself this special summer.
For a young reader, not much is better during the summer months (or ever!) than a story about an island and a young girl, a new friend and an old sailboat, and most intriguingly, a treasure map; which means The Treasure of Maria Mamoun would have been on the top of my favorite books list when I was a kid. And even now, I practically flew through this book, loving every minute . . . A well-written story with believable characters, The Treasure of Maria Mamoun will draw readers in and make them root for Maria to solve the message on the map and find the treasure. But more importantly, readers will root for Maria to make friends and find a real home on Martha’s Vineyard, one where she and her mother can find community and a kind of family in those around them.
A city girl moves to an island and finds her true place in the world . . . Chalfoun’s deft prose captures the glories of the New England oceanside, and her well-portrayed major characters change and grow throughout the narrative. The author draws on her own experiences for well-integrated details of the heroine’s half-Lebanese background . . . Happy endings all around fit well within this slightly old-fashioned tale, and Maria’s blossoming connections with a large local family and the island itself prove to be the true treasure of the title . . . [A] satisfying summer adventure.
—School Library Journal
Available now in hardcover & e-book.
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Jacket art by the wonderful Karl Kwasny