Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

"So Mom got the postcard today."

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Summary: As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid," a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books; 208 pages

16 comments:

Becky said...

This is the best book I've read so far this year -- but I don't yet have a huge basis for comparison. It's a mystery, it's a true-to-life drama, it's a coming-of-age story, it's a bit of a period piece--but not overwhelmingly so, and it takes a swing into the fantasy realm. I loved the references to A Wrinkle in Time. I know that it doesn't apply to our Newbery discussion, but it would be interesting to teach or bookclub the two books together. The characterization is so well done. Miranda (named for Miranda Rights) is a little bit Anne Shirley and a little bit Emma-Jean Lazarus -- but it's not only an "I-am-a-strong-female-character-type" book -- I think that boys will like it too. Finally it's funny -- "What did the zero say to the eight?" I won't spoil anything for you by telling you the answer to the joke -- read this book.

DaNae said...

This is not only may favorite for this year, but it stands out as one of the stongest, tightest, most compelling books in quite some years.

tessyohnka said...

I have always been a big fan of the $20,000 Pyramid (dollar amount dependent upon the year the show was aired) so I loved the fact that all, or actually, most of the chapter titles were categories -- "things you pretend" -- and even better is the final tie-in -- that while her mother is on stage "lifting the veil"/"finding the thread" in the context of the game show, Miranda follows the same advice as it applies to her experience with Marcus, Sal, and the laughing man. I enjoyed the references to Wrinkle in Time, impressed with the author's handling of the time travel aspect and maybe a little embarrassed that I didn't have it figured out before it was all revealed! I think it's a contender.

Jill said...

This is definitely a very solid book, and in the running in my opinion. Not my favorite, but close to the top. I too, loved the tie-ins to the $20,000 Pyramid, and I was also kept guessing until the end. One of the most sincere parts of the book,in my opinion, was Sal's reasons for "ignoring" Miranda...turning out to be a noble gesture instead of just being a mean boy! Great characters, all of them, even down to Jimmy!

Matt said...

My favorite book of the year. By far. I picked this one up and simply could not put it down, the intrigue was so palpable. The story has a bit of something for everyone, a bit mystery, a bit sci fi, a bit romance, and a bit coming of age. The plot is wholly engaging, and the resolution is expertly accomplished. At the top of my short list of contenders.

Karen said...

I was very impressed by this book. It's very original. One of the best I've read in a long time.

shelf-employed said...

Wow! Great and unique and unexpected, but I can't say anything else without spoiling it. The jacket art says it all. This is the best book I've read this year.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it to be compelling and hard to categorize. I can't wait to see what my middle school students think of it. I loved the tribute to A Wrinkle In Time, too!

Teresa said...

Filled with compelling characters, written in a fast--paced first person point of view and has a fascinating story line -- spot-on age appropriate. Loved Miranda's (main character) statement about the age of Meg (Wrinkle in Time) being 11 when she (Miranda) was 11 and 12 when she was 12. Plenty of thought-provoking discussion topics, without hitting the reader over the head.

A must-read if you plan to attend the in-person discussion, because, well, because you'll be bummed if you don't.

HAH said...

I enjoyed this one and found it a compelling read. I liked the fact that is it a quick read.

Jen said...

This book has a really unique feel-- covers a lot in an engaging way. I am having a hard time explaining the nuances that I liked best about the book-- may need to read it again to help me formulate-- but I just gave it to my husband last night after finishing it and now he's only halfway through so I'll have to wait.

Meredith said...

I must confess that I hadn't intended to read this book because the summary on this site conjured images of a semi-neglected child whose parent is obsessed with reality tv being left to fend for herself in a potentially dangerous situation. And the overly juvenile looking cover didn't sweeten my opinion of the book.
But on another librarian's recommendation I did read it, and it's fantastic. I don't like mysteries, and I've never read A Wrinkle in Time, and I loved it.
The story is original. The voice of the main character Miranda actually sounds like a child's voice rather than a sophisticated adult's. The plot is super tight.
This is my Newbery pick.

kim said...

My absolute, hands down, favorite book yet! Perfect.

jrewrite said...

I so don't get all the above comments. I loved the author's first book, First Light. This one is different. It is almost a science fiction book without any science fiction. I didn't come to care for the characters and I found some aspects unrealistic. Would 6th graders really be free to leave school for lunch in NYC and then get part time jobs in a sandwich shop? The book makes uch a big deal about the letter Miranda needs to write in order to help the person who isw coming to save her friends...in the end we never get to read the letter.
I think this book gets big points for creativity and thinking differently, but it does't all come together. I was confused at times and I think many of my students would be too. I don't think many kids today have read a Wrinkle in Time. It only stands a chance it the judges loved Wrinkle in Time as kids.

townie said...

This book has my vote for the Newbery. In a completely contemporary setting, it builds on a beloved classic. The main character is believable and someone children can identify with -- especially so when she is the one who DOESN'T get the physics involved in the time travel. The ending is a complete and poignant surprise. My mock Newbery discussion group (mostly 5th graders) gave it their vote too.

Anonymous said...

This book is not one of my favorite books I've read. But I think it has some good things in it; this book was cute and I liked the charcters, it was well written, and I could picture what was happening when I was reading this book.