In the tradition of Opal in “Because of Winn-Dixie” and the title character of Ida B, comes Roberta Angela McKinnon, an 11-year-old with spunk, sass, and a vivid imagination. This is a story told in a distinctive voice that is by turns funny, exciting, and sometimes heartbreaking.

In “The Summer Experiment,” a boring summer vacation turns unexpectedly interesting when mysterious lights appear over Roberta’s hometown in northern Maine. Roberta is convinced she and her best friend Marillee can win the Maine State Science Fair if only they can find an amazing project to showcase. Communicating with aliens would certainly do the trick. But in order to win they’ll need to defeat their chief competitor, “The 4H’s of the Apocalypse”: Henry Horton Harris Helmsby.

Roberta’s biggest distraction is her brother Johnny and his friend Billy Ferguson. The boys are constantly playing tricks on the girls such as disguising themselves as aliens at night to scare everyone. By the end of the summer Roberta’s learned a lot more about her friends, her family, and most of all herself.

Pelletier was born and raised on the banks of the St. John River, at the end of the road in Northern Maine. She is the author of nine other novels, including “The Funeral Makers,” “The Weight of Winter,” “Running the Bulls,” and “The One-Way Bridge.” After years of living in Nashville, Tennessee; Toronto, Canada; and Eastman, Quebec; she has returned to Allagash, Maine and the family homestead where she was born. She is at work on a new novel, “A Year After Henry” to be published June 2014.

“The Summer Experiment” is her first children’s book. For more information, visit www.sourcebooks.com.


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