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(Junebug #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  279 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Reeve McLain, Jr.--Junebug--has a big dream that keeps him going. He dreams that someday he and his younger sister and mother will move from the awful housing project where drugs, gangs, and guns are part of everyday life. Junebug's 10th birthday is coming up, and he knows the gangs and drug dealers will be after him to join them. But he has a big birthday plan to keep his ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Yearling (first published September 27th 1995)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  279 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Sometimes authors use a dystopian setting to highlight problems in our world today. Thus, I was shocked that this 112 page children book has a writing style and storytelling aspects that are superior to many of the thick YA novels I've read. From page one, I was astonished by 9 year old Junebug's imagination and the phenomenal way Alice Mead wields words.

Although, Junebug's biggest issue does not involve a love interest or talking down a totalitarian government, the matter of surviving in the
John Jorgensen
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it

I thought that this book was a good book to read. It teaches you to always stay strong even through hard times and bad influences.

plot: Junebug is a young boy of the age of 9. He has a dream to collect mini bottles. Although he has a hard childhood, he tries his hardest to make the best of things even in the situations that he is in. From gang affiliation, to hard family matters, Junebug doesn’t give up on his dream.

characterization: Junebug is a young boy who is trying to fulfill his dream of
Hannah Taylor
Personal reaction: I thought Junebug was kind of heartbreaking because of what Junebug had to deal with growing up in the projects. I also thought it was heartwarming the way he decided to be strong and overcome obstacles to finally get his wish of learning more about boats.

Purpose: I think this book would be especially good for individual reading of kids in the 3rd to 5th grade range because it shows how a young boy fights against the odds and doesn't end up a victim of the projects like most
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
This is a somber but heartwarming story of 9-year old Reeve McClain, whose friends and family call him Junebug. It is just before his 10th birthday and Junebug is busy filling empty glass bottles with his birthday wish, which is to sail on a boat, as he hopes one day to be a sea captain. He’s also struggling with surviving in the projects of New Haven, Connecticut, where daily life is rough. He is helping his little sister Tasha learn to read, watches her after school when their aunt finds ...more
Markita Harris
Nov 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I generally liked this book overall. There are a lot of complexities in Junebugs life that are well reflected through Mead's writing. However, if you look at this book through a cultural lens, it was very stereotypical and in some ways over generalized "life in the projects". I think it's a great book for students to read particularly when you are trying to examine stereotypes and why people join gangs.
Surprised the ratings for this book aren't higher. Absolutely loved this story and I know my students will too.
Donna Barnes
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is another YA book that was recommended to me so I picked it up. I enjoyed it. Junebug is a tad younger in this book (10 years old) , and I point that out because I thought a slightly older kid might get more out of it and I wasn't sure a twelve or thirteen year old kid would read about a 10 year old. But I thought it just seemed a bit beyond a 10 year old in interest and in the style. But I could be wrong here, and not a good judge of that. However, I really thought this book had merit and ...more
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my students brought this book to me because he noticed a lot of similarities to “Dear Martin” by Nic Stone. He read it back in 5th grade and wanted to see if I noticed similarities as well. It definitely alludes to a lot of the same trials that Justyce goes through in “Dear Martin,” and it makes me happy that these books have the ability to be in younger readers’ hands. It is imperative to expose children to books of all kinds, especially books that are diverse and cause its reader to ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, big-kid-lit
Short but engaging tale of a young African-American boy in the projects, I would guess circa 1987. He is street-smart and protects his kidergartener sister while his mom works long hours. The description of the high-rise project he lives in could allow kids a glimpse of a world they are unfamiliar with. The boy's ability to watch and evaluate people around him as well as his own choices in life are life lessons to be shared with all.
Dec 26, 2017 rated it liked it
The premise of the book was what first encouraged me to read it. Junebug is a role model for strength in the face of adversity. There could have been more substance to it but I’m also aware of the audience the author is trying to capture. A good quick read in between novels.
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: for-the-kids
This was a re-read from my childhood. I couldn't get rid of it when i was weeding last year because I remember loving it. It was worth taking the time to read again, just wish I thought my kids would like it.
Amahd Washington
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was very interesting , I’ve read it plenty of times . It has very good parts & it paints a vivid picture in your mind . I recommend you read
Apr 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a great read. In spite of everything that life has thrown at him, Junebug makes lemonade out of lemons. The story will break the reader's heart, but hope shines through.
Living in the housing projects in New Haven, Connecticut, about-to-be-ten-year-old Junebug is trying desperately to avoid be initiated by gangs. His mother works hard to support him and his little sister and depends on Aunt Jolita to care for the kids when she isn't home. But, Jolita is falling in with some questionable characters herself and often leaves the kids to fend for themselves.

When Junebug's mom confronts Jolita, disaster strikes leaving the little family no choice but to move out of
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Junebug by Alice Mead is about the boy was do the game and he was happy. They was play with his brother. I recommendation my sister and brother because they fight a lot. Need to learn how to be nice. My sister and brother can be nice.
Theresa Reifon
Format/Length: Chapter Book; 102 pages

Black Eyed Susan Award (Maryland)
Bluebonnet Award (Texas)

Theme(s): Dreams, Values, Family, Inner Struggles, Negative Influences


Surrounded by ugliness and negativity- gangs, drugs, and violence, Junebug is full of positivity and high hopes. He dreams of one day moving out of the projects with his mother and sister Tasha and sailing the waters. Junebug helps watch over his little sister because his aunt Jolita is too busy hanging
I don't know how I haven't read this before. It was brilliant. Not only is this an extremely well-written book, it is so relatable to students who are going through a similar situation.

Junebug is a 9 year old boy, anticipating his 10th birthday. He lives in the projects in New Haven with his mother, little sisters, and, more recently, Aunt Jolita, who would rather hang out with her friends than watch her niece and nephew when they get home from school. Junebug has a plan for getting out of the
Dec 07, 2016 added it
Shelves: multicultural
Summary: Junebug, whose real name is Reeve McLain, Jr. wants nothing more than his family to be able to get out of the housing projects in Connecticut. He is constantly surrounded by gangs, drugs and violence and knows that when his tenth birthday arrives, they will be looking to recruit him. He has a plan for his birthday which helps to keep hope for his life afterwards.

Review: 'Junebug' is such a real-life story as told from a fictional point of view. This is an important topic that is so
Jun 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It about a boy Junebug who as a dream that his young sister and mom leave his awful home. So humbug write to whom and they can help and find. Junebug live in a place were there drug gangs and other. Junebug has alot of thing plan for his birthday. So Junebug picks up his and see if she got a sticker and she did because she can read. So one day ms robert come and teach her how to read. So Junebug tell there mom and she was happy and told Junebug to tell ms Robert thank you for helping my little ...more
Kelsey Jacks
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edre-4870
Junebug is about a young boy, Junebug, who lives in the projects. Every boy at the age of ten in the projects is forced to join a gang for “survival”. Junebug does not want to join a gang, he wants to move away with his mother and sister to have a better life away from the gangs and violence. Junebug refuses to give up on his dream for a better life. This book is good addition to the text set because Junebug is being forced to be “a man” and join a gang. He knows that isn’t right and wants a ...more
Mar 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A cute story about a boy with big dreams!

From back cover:

"Reeve McLain, r - Junebug - has a big dream that keeps him going. Junebug dreams that someday he and his younger sister and mother will move from the awful housing project where drugs, gangs, and guns are part of everyday life. Junebug's tenth birthday is coming up, and he knows the gangs and drug dealers will be after him to join them. But Junebug has a big birthday plan to keep his hope alive. He's going to launch his collection of
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: elementary
This was a really good book that I feel does a decent job of capturing the projects. It could be a YA pick based on theme, but it's clearly written at an elementary level with a 4th grader as the main character. This child is afraid of drug lords and gangster thugs that are part of his apartment complex, and seem inexcapable. I feel for him. I think it could have been longer, and I'd love to find out what happened to Junebug. Wanted to slap the aunt. The author does a pretty good job of ...more
Jan 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Junebug by Alice Mead.Junebug is a boy who has bottles he writes notes in those bottles and he goes to the ocean to make them drift away in to the sun set.My opinion on this this book is great this book is heart warming it intresting how the boy litterly bottle his feeling up.My favorite part of the book was when june bug wrote what he wanted for his birthday. Now this book a would reommened to someone who understants the book someone who knows whats happening I think this book is great go read ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: ages 12+ and African American kids
Recommended to Blake by: mom
I wasn't a fan of this book. I didn't find the book gripping or interesting. I couldn't relate to it at all. It was about a black kid who was expected to join a gang when he turned 10. His Aunt was secretly a "bad guy" and she wasn't very nice. I did not like this book.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I think this book was sad and exciting. It was about a boy who collects bottles so that he can put notes in them about wanting to be a sailor. I think that whoever reads this comment should read June bug.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
Junebug is a kid with nothing going for him. He lives in a bad neighborhood, his family is poor, and he has a hopeless dream of becoming captain of a ship. He's a sympathetic character, however, I felt no need to feel sorry for Junebug because he felt sorry enough for himself.
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young Adults
I really like this story. Another quick read. It is about a young boy that lives in the projects surrounded by gangs, drug and violence. All he wants is for his family to be safe... Will he find a way to keep them safe or will he give in to the life of a gangster? Read it to find out!
Jun 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I love this book, I will read it over and over!!
Erin Cogburn
I thought this was a great book! I enjoy the example set by Junebug of rising above your individual situation, staying away from the mess of gangs, and dreaming big!
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ALICE MEAD has written several books about children in war-ravaged societies, including Girl of Kosovo, an NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. She lives in Maine.

Other books in the series

Junebug (3 books)
  • Junebug and the Reverend
  • Junebug in Trouble