for: middle grades
I was able to obtain six copies of Touch Blue for the last literature circles of the year, but offered it without having the time to read it. I’d read ABOUT it, and enjoy (very much) Cynthia Lord’s blog. I know – and trust her – as an author. And it’s set in Maine, for crying out loud. Six kids were in the group. Six kids loved the book
Well now I just finished reading it myself. It’s a perfect book for fourth graders. It covers all sorts of things to talk about: living on an actual island that is only accessible by boat, what a “family” is, believing in superstitions, good luck/bad luck, and how it might feel not to be able to live with your own parents. It has a token bully to ponder. Content-wise, music and lobster fishing also have big parts in the novel. Monopoly, talent shows, irritating little sisters and the Boston Red Sox….I could go on and on.
When a family with many kids moves from Bethsaida Island to the mainland, the state of Maine decides there aren’t enough children to keep the island school open. So some of the families decide to take in foster kids. Tess’s family gets Aaron, a red-headed, 13-year-old gifted musician who has already been shuffled around in Maine’s foster care system. Tess’s dad, a lobster fisherman and her mom, the school’s only teacher, open up their home and their hearts; and both Tess and her little sister, Libby, are greatly looking forward to having a brother. Of course things are very rocky. Small town gossip and the local bully don’t help matters, either.
Since the story is told in the first person by Tess, the reader can get inside her head and see what her fears, her hopes, and her miseries truly are. It’s a lovely story with an ending that looks to the future and might give kids a reason to look beyond the surface in the lives of other kids and not always take everything at face value.
(‘Course, it doesn’t hurt that I lived for 30 years on an island – the kind you can drive onto – on the coast of Maine.)
“Summer is short and changeable in Maine – like the weather can’t make up its mind. One day it can be ninety degrees, so hot in the sun that rivers of sweat trickle down my spine and my rubbersized hauling pants stick to my skin wherever they touch it. A week later, it can turn so chilly and foggy that I’ll need jeans and a sweatshirt. The talk at the store is always the weather and the Red Sox – starting with whichever one is doing worse.”“Yup, it’s a good one, Burt…..”
Cynthia Lord’s website
Cynthia Lord's blog (She includes lots of photos she takes wherever she goes, I really enjoy it.)