Lots of students signed up! Plenty of teachers jumped on board too! I got them all going and then, finally, I got my group. I didn't play favorites, I took the leftovers: Six boys, seventh grade, all labeled 'struggling readers.'
At our first meeting I touted their luck. They got the reading specialist, the one in charge, the one who held the key to all the books available. While the other groups were selecting from 3 or 4 titles, they would get to choose from the whole lot!
And they chose one of my favorites. "Trickery," my fellow den leaders called. It was my secret wish, my fingers crossed, eyes tightly shut hope. My boys picked When You Reach Me, the 2010 Newbery winner.
Isn't it amazing when you re-read a book you've loved and are reminded why you loved it? I read a lot of books. I wish I were a more tenacious writer and told about them all here. I should have written about When You Reach Me. Though the fancy gold seal and mandated library purchase now trail the glowing reviews, I should have told you that the last chapters will leave you breathless. You'll want to read it again. And maybe, if you're lucky like me, you'll get to read it again with those seeing it new. Magical!
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Genre: Mostly historical fiction, turning to science fiction at the very end
Age: 9 - 12
Themes: Friendship, Coming of Age, Family Life, Time Travel
Character Development: Fantastic & unique characters
Plot Engagement: Slow at start, good in middle, whiz-bang ending
Believability: 100% suspension of disbelief intact
Awards: Newbery 2010
Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Date: July 2009
BUY When You Reach Me HERE
Lesson Activities: Some book group discussion questions: HERE
Random House excerpt: Here
Scholastic reading guide & project ideas: HERE
Here's the author discussing her writing style the book: