Thursday, April 15, 2010

Better Late than Never ...

The 2010 Newbery Award medal was announced way back in January, so it's high time for the winning book to receive some attention on this blog.  If only there were a way to go back in time ...

Stead, Rebecca (2009). When You Reach Me. (Gr. 5-8)

In 1979, 12-year-old Miranda lives in Manhattan with her mother.  They have a run-down apartment in a run-down building, and she reads and re-reads a tattered copy of A Wrinkle in Time.  The homeless man on the corner and the gang of boys at the garage make Miranda nervous, but she has street smarts to keep her safe.  Everything starts to go wrong when Miranda's best friend, Sal, is punched while they're walking home from school.  Sal stops talking to her, and Miranda has no one to turn to when someone breaks into her apartment and leaves a strange note: "I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own."  More mysterious notes accurately predict the future--and, as if that isn't enough to worry about, she has to make new friends.  Miranda has a lot of questions to answer.  Will her mom ever be able to leave the job that she hates?  Is time-travel possible?  Will Sal be her friend again?  Who keeps sending the notes?

There's a little bit of science fiction, here, but everything about the characters and the setting is realistic.  Clues are slyly dropped along the way, and everything fits together perfectly.  If you like science fiction, you'll probably like this book.  If you like realistic fiction, you'll probably like it, too.  If you like mysteries ... yep, you'll like this book.  (If you like all three genres: this is exactly the book you need to get on your next visit to the library.)  It's the kind of story that keeps turning over and over in your mind for days as you digest it all.

Especially recommended for Wrinkle in Time fans.

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