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Summer Begins: The Callahan Cousins    by Elizabeth Doyle Carey order for
Summer Begins
by Elizabeth Doyle Carey
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Her parents recently divorced, their only child, Hillary Callahan, sees her summer on Gull Island (off the New England coast) at her grandmother Gee's with three Callahan cousins both as a refuge and as an opportunity to prove herself to her father as a true Callahan.

The four twelve-year-old cousins are very different in personality - Hillary is athletic, impatient and adventurous, Neeve is a colorful eccentric, Kate is cautious and crafty, and Phoebe is a neatnik reader. Hillary, the narrator, proposes that her generation of cousins continue the tradition begun by their fathers, in competition with a local family - to plant a flag claiming a small offshore island as their own. For some reason, this led to bad feelings between their fathers and their once-friends, the Bickets.

Not knowing who she is, Neeve lets the cat out of the bag to sullen, snotty Sloan Bicket, who makes her own flag planting plans. But the cousins press on nevertheless, getting Gee's old sailboat seaworthy again, researching charts and tides, designing a flag, and taking the sailing clinic course their grandmother signed them up for. As in any venture, there are squabbles and squalls, and the girls push personal limits, but they make good calls, especially Hillary. At the end they all vow, 'Cousins forever!'

This first in the Callahan Cousins series is good, old-fashioned fun, reminiscent of Enid Blyton's hugely popular Famous Five and Secret Seven adventures. Enjoy Summer Begins, which will soon be followed by Home Sweet Home.

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