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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*When You Reach Me* by Rebecca Stead - Newbery Award-winning young readers book review
Also by Rebecca Stead:

First Light
When You Reach Me (2010 Newbery Award)
by Rebecca Stead
Ages 10-14 208 pages Yearling December 2010 Paperback    

Miranda receives notes from a stranger telling her about events in the future and the past:
“I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I ask two favors. First you must write me a letter.”
When You Reach Me is that letter, written in both the present and past tense from Miranda’s point of view.

Sixth-grader Miranda lives with her single mother in 1979 New York City. Her mother is practicing to go on the $20,000 Pyramid TV game show while Miranda and her friends get a job at the local sub shop during their school lunch hours.

Strange events begin when Miranda’s best friend, Sal, is punched in the gut after school. Afterward, he begins to change, avoiding Miranda and keeping to himself.

Seemingly unrelated events and people enter Miranda’s life – a strange “laughing man” on the corner; the boy who hit Sal talks about time travel; a missing key, missing shoes, etc. Tying the plot elements and some characters together is Miranda’s favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time. Time itself is a relative concept in this book. Each character, each subplot is indirectly related to the other, tied together at the end and leaving the reader with a satisfying, unexpected ending.

A combination of genres, When You Reach Me reads much like contemporary fiction with friendship issues and a mystery that sneaks up on the characters. Behind the scenes, science fiction/time travel events affect both the characters and the conflicts, yet only the short letters reveal tiny pieces of what has happened, or will happen in the future. Short chapters, titled after categories on the $20,000 Pyramid, tell the story in concise prose with plenty of dialog and fast-moving action.

Thoughtful readers familiar with A Wrinkle of Time will enjoy this story more than less mature, “surface readers” looking for a quick read. The story begs to be read again, with careful attention to seemingly insignificant clues and unrelated events. Highly recommended.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Kristine Wildner/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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