Cynthia Lord's RULES quickly became one of my favorite books the first time I read it. Now, as I'm reading it aloud to my 7th graders I am repeatedly struck by how meaningful it is. I was delighted when I found out Cindy had a new middle grade novel coming out.
Eleven-year-old Tess lives on an island off the coast of Maine. She loves her island life, including fishing with her father on his lobster boat. When the state plans to close the school house where Tess's mother is the teacher, the island community steps into action. Several families agree to take in foster children in hopes that they will help kids who need good families and save their school. Tess hopes her luck will hold as her family takes a chance on 13-year-old trumpet playing Aaron, but as things look like they aren't going to work out as she'd hope, Tess learns about luck and belonging.
I was not at all disappointed! Cynthia Lord has once again beautifully captured the voice and essence of "tweeners". Tess and Aaron are vibrant and real. The island is populated with interesting characters from a nosy neighbor to the class bully. I love it when an author has some sort of a frame that they weave their story around and Cindy cleverly weaves in various superstitions as Tess is a girl who very much one who believes in luck. I was delight to find that becoming an essential part of Tess' growth as a character. The setting is also beautiful created. I could hear the gulls cry and almost taste the salty air. Having spent time on the coast of Maine, I was transported back there as I read the story. There was so much that I could relate to, from the frustrations of missing your best friend to the strategies of playing Monopoly with a sibling.
I can't wait to share this with my class once we finish RULES! I'm also pretty excited to have received my very first ARC, thanks, Cindy!
*ARC provided by author
TOUCHBLUE is due to be released in August 2010 by Scholastic.