Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Middle-Grade Review: Touch Blue

I absolutely loved Cynthia Lord’s debt novel, Rules, which won a Newberry Honor, so I was excited to hear she had released a new middle-grade novel, Touch Blue.  Lord’s realistic, fun portrayal of adolescents’ ups and downs continues with this unique story.

The setting for Touch Blue happens to be one of my favorites: a small island off the coast of Maine (wouldn’t you love to live there?).  Eleven-year old Tess loves to go out on her family’s boat with her lobsterman father and wholeheartedly believes in all sorts of maritime folk tales about luck, including the one that says when you touch something blue, you can make a wish.

Tess’ island schoolhouse is about to be closed down by the state due to a decrease in enrollment.  The islanders have come up with a plan to keep it open by taking in foster kids to increase enrollment (and do something good in the process).  Thirteen-year old Aaron comes to live with Tess’ family.

Aaron has had a rough life.  His mom is not able to take care of him, and his grandma died a couple of years ago.  He’s been moved around to different foster homes and feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere.   Here’s Tess’ first view of Aaron:

Then I see Aaron.  Skinny as a spar, he seems too tall for thirteen, with a pinched-sour mouth and red hair.  A redhead on a boat is unlucky!  Why didn’t I remember to mention that to his caseworker?  His hair, bright as October leaves, falls near to his shoulders.

Tess is doing her best to find good luck charms and make the right wishes, but it might take more than that to make things work out.  This sweet story about belonging to a family and a community is perfect for middle-grade readers, with realistic characters and plenty of warmth and humor.

186 pages, Scholastic

To learn more about Cynthia Lord and her books, you can visit her website and her blog.


Jan von Harz said...

I have never read Rules, but Touch Blue sounds like a very interesting story and one I will definitely check out for my middle school readers. Thanks for the review.

Julie said...

This sounds very interesting. I may look into getting it for my 10 year old goddaughter.

parenting ad absurdum said...

This sounds EXACTLY like what I would have wanted to read at 10!