Sunday, August 1, 2010

Touch Blue, by Cynthia Lord - a wonderfully quiet story that seeps under your skin (ages 9 - 12)

My grandfather used to tell me that you needed a little luck and a lot of hard work to do well in the world. You couldn't do it just with hard work - everyone needs some luck to get by. He was a man who pulled himself up from the bootstraps, the first in his family to go to college, and he worked hard to do well. But he was always aware how luck played such an important role - it was his way of being grateful for what the universe brought his way.

When I read Touch Blue, by Newbery award-winning author Cynthia Lord, I thought a lot about luck, how you call it to you, and how you just need to let it come and be grateful for the luck that you have. Eleven-year-old Tess Brooks believes that you can help bring luck your way if you do a few simple things. "Why take chances?" says Tess. "Especially when it's so easy to let the universe know what you want by touching blue or turning around three times or crossing your fingers."
Touch Blue
by Cynthia Lord
NY: Scholastic, 2010
ages 9 - 12
available on Amazon and at your public library
Tess and her family have lived on Bethsaida Island, off the coast of Maine, for as long as she can remember. Her father is a lobsterman, and her mother is the island’s school teacher. But the state is saying that the school has too few students to keep open. Tess’s family and other island families decide to take in foster children to help keep the school open. Aaron is a brooding, quiet 13 year old who misses his mother terribly, and wishes he were anywhere else but in this new home. Tess worries that if Aaron really hates living with them, he will run away, the state will close their school, and she will have to move away from the home she loves.
"Reaching into my pocket, I touch that lucky-blue sea glass and try to cram all my wishes about Aaron into one. Please let this plan work." Tess from Touch Blue
(c) Cynthia Lord
Aaron is desperate to see his mother again, and Tess decides to take a big risk to help him see his birth mother again. As Tess and Aaron adjust to the changes in their lives, they each come to know themselves a little better, know what’s important, and how to make their own luck.

This is a wonderfully quiet novel, one that seeps under your skin and stays with you. The characters’ emotions ring true: they are neither simplistic or blown out of proportion, but rather feel honest as the reader comes to know Tess and Aaron.

Here are two lines that really spoke to me. I'm sure they say as much about me as they do about the novel, but I thought they were powerful.

"I don't know. We don't get to decide that," Dad says. "But we'll all go on, whatever comes. Sometimes you have to stop trying to control everything and let life happen the way it's supposed to, Tess. Even if it's not exactly the way you wanted." (p. 173, ARC)

"We're all made up of our bits and pieces. People who love us, places we've lived, and the biggest part of all - who we are inside." (p. 175, ARC)
This is a wonderful book to read aloud with your child - full of moments to ponder, to appreciate, to enjoy.

Other reviews:
Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup
Kids Lit

The review copy was kindly sent by the author. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this page, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reviewing this--I just read "Rules" recently and loved it, so I'm sure I'll enjoy this one as well.