WHEN YOU REACH ME- Rebecca Stead

I have decided that the world is composed of two kinds of people-- those that are good at moving and those that are not. Unfortunately, I have also decided that I definitely fall into the latter category. Two weeks later and we are still not all the way out of the old house, nor are we settled in the new one. So, once again resorting to my favorite coping strategy- when the going gets tough, the tough find a corner and get reading. This week I have been reading this year's Newbery award winner, WHEN YOU REACH ME, by Rebecca Stead.

Twelve year old Miranda has been friends with Sal almost since they were born. One day, when they are walking home from school, a boy who neither Sal nor Miranda knows walks up and punches Sal in the stomach. After that incident, Sal no longer wants anything to do with his former best friend, Miranda. Shortly after that, Miranda starts finding tiny notes hidden in her schoolbooks and her backpack…

This story doesn't read like a friendship or coming of age story. It's really more of a science fiction-y time travel mystery. Miranda's favorite book is Madeline L'Engle's WRINKLE IN TIME. She carries her worn copy with her wherever she goes and there are repeated references to WRINKLE sprinkled liberally throughout WHEN YOU REACH ME. Miranda's mother is studying to go on THE TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLAR PYRAMID, and there are also numerous references to that show throughout the book. Each chapter, in fact, is a "category" title, e.g. THINGS THAT HEAL.

I liked this book. I was not sure, however, that fourth or fifth graders would find it particularly engaging. I wondered if they would have to know the story of WRINKLE IN TIME or would have to have seen TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLAR PYRAMID. It was interesting to me, then, to read this review on EDUCATING ALICE. Mona's kids loved the book, hung on every word, wrestled to put all of the clues together…

I'm still not sure I'd use it as my back to school read aloud. But maybe, a little later in the year, when kids had a little more experience with read alou…