Saturday, August 21, 2010
TOUCH BLUE- CYNTHIA LORD
Cynthia Lord gets it. She totally gets it.
And that could pretty much be my review for TOUCH BLUE.
But you might want a little more.
OK, here it is.
TOUCH BLUE is the story of Tess Brooks, an eleven-year-old girl who lives on Bethsaida Island in Maine. When the book opens, the Brooks family, along with several other families on Bethsaida Island, are waiting for the ferry, which is bringing five foster children to the island. The islanders are taking the foster children in a last-ditch effort to save their school, which is in danger of closing because there are not enough children.
Tess has big plans for Aaron, the thirteen-year-old boy who comes to live with them. She hopes he will like reading, building things, fishing, and riding bikes, just like she does. Aaron, however, turns out to be a musician-- a gifted trumpet and piano player, who carries a suitcase of sadness, a deep longing for his own mother and home, an emptiness and desire to belong. And that, I would say, has pretty much been my experience with the foster children I have known. No matter how loving their foster/adoptive family, or how rich their lives, or how long they have been separated, there is always a dull ache, a longing for their biological family and home…
It's not like the book is all sad. There is a lot of richness and humor and wisdom too. Tess' father (a way cool dad/foster dad), is a lobster fisherman, and there is lots of interesting information about that occupation/culture throughout the book (I worried before I read TOUCH BLUE) that my urban students might not be able to connect or understand, but Cynthia Lord explains things so beautifully, that won't be a problem at all, in fact I think they will love learning about a way of life so different from their own). Tess' father is a wise, wise man. At one point, for instance, he tells Tess that the Brooks family will have to be "stubborn" in loving Aaron, that they cannot give up on him. And in my mind, that's a perfect way to describe the love I have had to learn for my boys. Stubborn. It's a good thing I was pretty stubborn before I ever had them. And there's also the theme of superstition throughout the book. Tess is a highly superstitious young lady and each chapter opens with a superstition, which then is somehow connected to the events in the chapter, e.g. the title of the book comes from "Touch blue and your wish will come true."
I loved, loved, loved RULES. And I have had a lot of fun reading HOT ROD HAMSTER to younger kids. But TOUCH BLUE is definitely my favorite of Cynthia Lord's books. Cynthia Lord is an author who gets it.