When You Reach Me (or Things that Win the Newbery Medal)

April 21, 2010 at 1:07 pm

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead; published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, New York; 2009.

Sometimes random occurrences are significant, and sometimes they’re not.  Miranda is in sixth grade.  She loses her best friend when he is punched in the stomach (and smacked across the face) by a random kid on their way home from school; significant, right?  Maybe not.  The “quackers” guy that stands in front of her apartment building, kicking and screaming, is just some poor homeless guy; insignificant, right?  New friends, a lunch-hour job, Mom’s appearance on “The $20,000 Pyramid,” and mysterious notes from the future all play feature roles in Miranda’s life in New York City.  Some of these events, occurrences and synchronicities will impact her for today, and some will have repercussions  into the future.

It is really hard for me to summarize this book without giving away important events or without detracting from the absolutely delightfully constructed story.  Rebecca Stead’s 2010 Newbery Medal winning novel is part coming of age story, part futuristic fantasy, and part mystery.  It is, however, all engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable.  I chuckled when turning to a new chapter and finding that the vast majority are written as categories for the 1970s game show (currently reprised, I might add) “The $20,000 Pyramid.”  My favorite part of this book is finding it utterly delightful and realizing that it’s the first Newbery Medalist in awhile that would actually appeal to kids, large numbers of kids as a matter of fact.  It can’t be categorized easily so it can be enjoyed by boys and girls; mystery fans and romance fans (yes, there is a middle school kiss involved); and sci-fi fans or school drama fans.

I definitely would push this book as an independent reading choice and as a middle (or upper elementary) school book club read.  In fact, it’d make a dandy book for a family book club.

Some books stay with you long after you’ve closed the cover.  This is one of those, for me at least.

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Entry filed under: Newbery Award or Honor Book. Tags: , , .

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