Tuesday, November 10, 2009
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
I am currently on a mission to read ten preselected YA books before the ALA Mid-winter meeting when the next Printz Award books will be chosen. Over 20 students at my school are also participating in this challenge with me. (We're calling it the Mock Printz Workshop but more on that on another post.)
This delightful book is one of those preselected books and I found it enchanting. Set in the 1970s, each chapter is titled as if it might have been a category on the game show, The $20,000 Pyramid: Things in a closet; Things in a kitchen drawer; Things on a bus; Etc. I wonder if kids today even remember this show. I have a feeling that some of the symbolism will be lost on them.
Stead does a marvelous job of inserting just enough science fiction into this mysterious story to make it intriguing. The main character in the story, Miranda, has a favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, which was my favorite book in 6th grade. I loved Wrinkle so much I remember rereading it and doing all my projects that year somehow related to that book. Miranda comes to believe in the possibility of time travel through Wrinkle and this possibility colors the whole story right down to it's satisfying ending.
Though this book's target audience is really the middle school set I think it is deserving of all the accolades it is receiving and would guess that it is considered for a Newberry Award or Honor. I hope that it doesn't win the Printz award, however, because I want that winning book to be a truly teen or young adult novel. That said, it is still a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.
Grade 5-8; 5 out of 5 stars.