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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Module 4: When You Reach Me

Module 4: Newbery Medal

When You Reach Me
Author: Rebecca Stead

Book Summary:
 In When you Reach Me, Miranda is a latchkey kid living in the city with her mother. Miranda likes to read, one book in particular: Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. She observes other kids in her class, recounts old friendships, forms new friendships, and helps her mother study to be on a game show. This seemingly mundane life of a 12 year old is turned upside down by a homeless man living on a street corner that kicks and yells at the sky, a punch to her best friend, and several secret notes.

APA Book Reference:
Stead, R. (2009). When you reach me. New York, NY: Random House Children’s Books.

     As I had planned on reading A Wrinkle in Time after this book, I did not like that it revealed so much of the plot of the that book. However, I realize that revealing so much was essential to the story as A Wrinkle in Time almost becomes a character itself in the story.
     I enjoyed the story once I got used to the time skipping around. Miranda told some backstories about her old relationship with Sid and such, so a few times I was lost in time. However, that could have been a device of the book considering it turned out to have a time travel plot. I assumed the book would lean towards that concept when Miranda got the note about one of her friends needing to be saved, and all of Miranda’s time travel talk with Marcus.
However, I was still somewhat surprised by the ending.
     A few small things that bothered me enough to note were: Miranda and her friends worked a job that they did not get paid for, why? Was it fun for them to get yelled at but their boss? And Miranda wasn’t really even allowed to do anything.
Also, the characters in the story were around age 12, and they walked around in the city by themselves. The story was set in 1979, so I assume times were different and people weren’t as overly protective of their children no matter how responsible they seem to be.

Professional Review:

Cooper, I. (2009, June 1). When you reach me [Review of the book when you reach me]. Booklist Online. Retrieved from: http://www.booklistonline.com/When-You-Reach-Me-Rebecca-Stead/pid=3389749

“If this book makes your head hurt, you’re not alone. Sixth-grader Miranda admits that the events she relates make her head hurt, too. Time travel will do that to you. The story takes place in 1979, though time frames, as readers learn, are relative. Miranda and Sal have been best friends since way before that. They both live in a tired Manhattan apartment building and walk home together from school. One day everything changes. Sal is kicked and punched by a schoolmate and afterward barely acknowledges Miranda. Which leaves her to make new friends, even as she continues to reread her ratty copy of A Wrinkle in Time and tutor her mother for a chance to compete on The $20,000 Pyramid. She also ponders a puzzling, even alarming series of events that begins with a note: “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own . . . you must write me a letter.” Miranda’s first-person narrative is the letter she is sending to the future. Or is it the past? It’s hard to know if the key events ultimately make sense (head hurting!), and it seems the whys, if not the hows, of a pivotal character’s actions are not truly explained. Yet everything else is quite wonderful. The ’70s New York setting is an honest reverberation of the era; the mental gymnastics required of readers are invigorating; and the characters, children and adults, are honest bits of humanity no matter in what place or time their souls rest. Just as Miranda rereads L’Engle, children will return to this.”

Library Uses:
This book can be used in the library as an example of how books can relate to each other. A book like this, that incorporates a main character with a love of reading, can encourage children to read as well. A librarian could use this book to start a conversation with children about what their favorite books are to read over and over again as Miranda reads A Wrinkle in Time.

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