Written by Cynthia Lord
Eleven-year-old Tess Brooks is looking forward to meeting her new foster brother, Aaron. Will she be able to handle all the baggage that he arrives with? Tess is a happy, well-adjusted girl who knows her own mind. She also knows the tiny Maine island on which she lives. The island is so small that the state is threatening to close the one-room school she and the other island children attend. Her mother is the teacher, which means her family would need to relocate if they lose her mother’s income. Partly as a response to the school situation, several families accept foster children to have more students. Tess’s family adds a thirteen-year-old boy whose mother struggles with drugs. The reader is invited aboard a lobster boat and also gets a big dose of life in a small town. Tess is a quirky mix of superstitious eleven-year-old and caring sister. Aaron has a chip on his shoulder, but he’s ultimately pragmatic, loving, and talented. Other wonderful characters include little sister Libby, irritating neighbor and nemesis Eben, and nosy neighbor Mrs. Coombs.
Lord deals with all the issues facing Tess with her usual compassion and tenderness, but these are large issues. Fourth grade readers will find a lot of information about how an uncertain future, a shaky past, and a sometimes-painful present can affect people. We can’t always control the situation, but we’re stronger than we think. Touch Blue has won numerous awards and appears on many reading lists, including Book Page Best Children’s Books of 2010. Learn about this and more titles from Lord’s website: www.cynthialord.com.