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Cynthia Lord is the award-winning author of RULES, a Newbery Honor book (among its many distinctions), as well as the critically acclaimed TOUCH BLUE, released August, 2010. She made her picture book debut with HOT ROD HAMSTER. She lives in Maine with her family. Visit her at cynthialord.com.
As she did in the Newbery Honor-winning Rules, Lord introduces a plucky, articulate girl from coastal Maine. When Tess's best friend's family moves away and there are no longer enough students to keep her island school open, her family is among those that offer to take in foster children to boost enrollment. Awaiting the arrival of Aaron, her teenage foster brother, Tess-an avid collector of good-luck talismans-is thrilled to find a piece of blue sea glass, since blue is especially lucky: "Touch blue and your wish will come true." Lord interlaces themes of loss, luck, superstition, family, and belonging, but at the heart of this tightly woven story is Tess's longing to help Aaron overcome his hurt and anger at having been taken from his alcoholic mother (years before) and shuffled among foster homes, and to make him feel like he's part of her close-knit family. His mother's unannounced appearance (at Tess's bold, clandestine invitation) at a talent show in which Aaron plays the trumpet adds tension and pathos to the finale of this stirring novel. Ages 9-12. (Aug.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-7-Tess Brooks, 11, believes in luck, wishes, and superstitions. When the state of Maine threatens to close her Bethsaida Island school because there aren't enough students, she and her family will be forced to move to the mainland, and Tess loves her island life. Reverend Beal comes up with an idea to expand the school population, and the Brooks family does its part by taking in a 13-year-old foster child. Tess doesn't give up hope even though Aaron is unhappy on the island and longs to return to his mother. Tess grows significantly throughout the novel as she learns that things don't always go according to a plan, but that they still have the capability of working out. Each chapter opens with a different saying that is used in the context of the story, which keeps readers guessing about its significance. They will feel an enormous amount of hope as they read Tess and Aaron's story. It delivers the message that everything happens for a reason, and that sometimes all you need to do is believe.-Rebecca Webster, Warren County Middle School, Front Royal, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.