Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When You Reach Me (Newbery #1)

Author: Rebecca Stead
Illustrator: Kate Gartner (cover)
Year Published: 2009
Publisher: Random House
Awards: Newbery Medal (2010)

What did you like/dislike about the book?
Rebecca Stead's book, When You Reach Me, is a tale of a middle school girl, Miranda, and her life in New York City.  Miranda tells about her life experiences, such as her mother getting on the game show $20,000 Pyramid and her days in school.  She and her best friend, Sal, have realistic encounters with neighborhood citizens.  One day, Miranda gets a strange letter and must figure out who its author is and what she is supposed to do with it.

Miranda often changes from first person to second person, as if she is talking to the letter's author.  This can be difficult to decipher at first.  

My favorite detail of the book is the quick plot.  Although it took a little while to get used to the changing audiences, the book moves quickly.  Miranda's explanations of her mother's personality and of her school life are humorous.  Many readers would be able to relate to her.  I also enjoyed the ending to this story.  Normally, I can figure out a story's ending early on, but was surprised by this book.  The time travel aspect of the book requires the reader to suspend reality, but it is not distracting.

This book is appropriate for intermediate and middle school readers.  It can be used to teach memoir writing, character, and science fiction writing.  There aren't any inappropriate parts, language or content, that would cause me to caution against reading this book.

What in your life would have influenced this reaction/response?
I did not know this book had a science fiction slant before reading it, otherwise, I might not have chosen it.  However, this book was more a discussion of Miranda's life and interactions than about science fiction issues.

How does this book compare to similar books/author’s other books?
Stead's only other title also involves science fiction and young adult characters.

What did I learn about children’s literature from this book?
Just because a book has science fiction elements to it doesn't mean I won't enjoy it.  I need to give more books a chance.

Other titles by this author include:

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