Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Summerlost by Ally Condie

How I Heard About It:  After attending the Scholastic Reading Summit in Kentucky, I stopped by Anderson's Book Shop in Naperville as I made my way back home.  It was such a thrill to finally get inside of this famous bookstore.  I was lucky enough to have two great conversations with book sellers.  One specialized in middle-grade fiction.  This was a title she pulled from the shelf and I added it to my purchases.  

What It Is About:  It has been a year since Cedar, her younger brother Miles, and their mother experienced a great loss.  They have returned to Iron Creek a year later to spend the summer.  Their mother has purchased a home that the three of them will stay in during the summer and rent out during the school year.  Each of them is trying to deal with and move forward from the great tragedy of a year ago.  As Cedar is settling into her new environment, she notices a boy about her age that is on his bike daily.  Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but it is the way he is dressed that catches her attention.  She learns that his name is Leo and he works at the local festival called "Summerlost" where staff perform old English plays.  Leo helps Cedar get a job and the two of them become inseparable.  Throughout the summer, various objects appear on Cedar's windowsill that represent her brother Ben.  She isn't sure who is delivering them, but hopes it might be the "ghost" of Ben.  Leo and Cedar also begin to give "unofficial" tours of several landmarks that represent a famous actress' life that ended too soon in this town.  These two young friends take several risks and begin to lie in order to achieve the goals they are trying to attain.  

What I Thought Of It:  I have been on such a great roll with my middle-grade novels.  I'm so glad the book seller in Naperville recommended this novel to me.  It was such a beautiful story.  I began reading it yesterday afternoon and finished it up today.  The words, sentences, and paragraphs flowed from page to page.  There were so many magical moments sprinkled throughout the story that I found myself smiling and my heart warming on many occasions.  Ally Condie included many "mini-plots" which all tied together to create a bigger meaningful story and message.  I also noticed that her chapters were shorter which more and more authors are beginning to do which is such a plus for some of our young readers.  

Who Should Read It:  Summerlost is definitely a story that should be shared with young readers.  When I finished the book this afternoon I knew that I would either use it as a read aloud or a possible selection for my "Breakfast with Books" book club.  I mentioned the shorter chapters that the author used and because of those I think readers in grades three, four, and five would be able to handle the book on their own quite easily.  Adult readers of middle-grade fiction should put this on their TBR list because it is such a strong and enjoyable story.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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