Written by Meg McKinlay
On the day that Cassie was born, her hometown ceased to be. The mayor flipped a switch and Old Grange filled up with water. Cassie spent her first 11 years in New Grange, hearing stories about a town she never walked through. Then, as she and the town rush toward their birthdays, Cassie starts swimming in the lake that buried the town. Her friend Liam joins her and they start exploring. Both of them want to walk the streets visit the buildings and understand the sense of place that their parents take for granted. Their fascination is understandable. It is the centennial year of Grange and everyone is focused on its history. The mayor is preparing for a town celebration, Cassie’s sister has the job of writing the official town book, and Cassie and Liam look. But all of it is just a reach into watery history, until the lake shows Cassie and Liam more.
This book is equal parts character and plot driven. Cassie is a lovely, albeit lonely kid, with a strong sense of not belonging, though she is perhaps not the outsider she sees herself as. Liam has similar issues. Their developing friendship gives us room to savor their time together even as we want to rush to the end and find out what happens. The beautiful imagery would make a good read aloud for older classes, though most fourth grade readers will simply want to slurp it up.
While this is mostly just a fun book, there is room to discuss broader issues within a class. Cassie’s town was moved so a dam could be built. Are those personal costs figured into the budget? Is it worth moving a town for the benefit of many others even at a high cost to a few? The book won’t provide direct answers to these questions, but may set the reader wondering.