Ivy lives in the mountains in a tiny house with her Grandparents in Thunder Creek, Kentucky. She takes a long bus ride to school everyday. Her house doesn’t have an indoor bathroom.
Catherine lives in a large house in Lexington, Kentucky. Catherine’s mom drives her to school everyday. Her house has four bathrooms.
It’s hard to imagine that these girls are alive at the same time, since their way of life seems so different. Ivy seems like a girl from the past, but she isn’t. Their different ways of life are the reason each girl has been chosen to represent her school in an exchange program. Ivy will go live with Catherine for two weeks and then Catherine will go live with Ivy for two weeks. Can these two girls with such different lives find anything in common? Can they be friends?
As part of the exchange, each girl is asked to keep a journal of the time they spend together. The journal entries are part of the story. Ivy writes about finding out that Catherine shares a whole indoor bathroom with just her sister. Catherine writes about the fact that Ivy only washes her hair once a week and that the bathtub is a large tub on the back porch!
I really liked reading how each girl felt as she met and learned to know the other girl’s family. I liked reading about how the girls worried about what school would be like and what the kids would think. In the journals the girls are honest. Sometimes they don’t like what they are finding out and sometimes they do. I really liked the girls’ families and how each one reacted to their visitor.
“Different” doesn’t mean “better” or “worse,” it just means different, and different can be really, really good. Author: Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
If you like the idea of an exchange, try The Whipping Boy or Freaky Friday. In both stories kids trade places just like Catherine and Ivy to walk a mile in someone elses shoes. You also might like Extra Credit. The kids in this story don’t actually trade places, but they do write each other letters to find out about a very different life.
13 year-old Lyza lives in New Jersey in 1968 with her Dad and her hippie sister. Lyza’s mother has abandoned the family and they are trying to keep it together with just the three of them. As Lyza says about the time since her mom left, ”our family began to unravel/like a tightly wound ball of string.” This book is written as a series of poems that make Lyza’s experiences seem even more real. It’s kind of like reading her diary or listening in on her thoughts.
Lyza’s grandfather’s death is another emotional blow for a family already on the edge. While cleaning out his house, Lyza discovers something curious, an envelope labeled, “for Lyza only.” In the envelope are old maps and clues that may lead to the pirate treasure of Capt. Kidd – a treasure that might be buried somewhere in Lyza’s hometown.
Lyza recruits her best friends Malcolm and Carolann to help her understand the clues and old maps. The kids operate in secret, doing their research by day and sneaking out at night to do their digging.
For Lyza, there are some mysteries she can’t solve by herself, like the reason her mother left. Other mysteries, like the whereabouts of Captain Kidd’s treasure, she just might be able to unravel with the help of a few good friends.
This story is set during the Vietnam war. Lyza has a lot of loss around her. Her mom has left, her Grandpa dies and boys from her town are dying in the war. All of this could make a person sink into despair, but instead, Lyza chooses to be alive. She chooses to grab the adventure that is handed to her. I really liked that about her. Life is unpredictable and sometimes very hard. But it IS life and life has all kinds of wonderful things and good surprises in it too. You can’t really have one without the other. I liked reading about a girl who is learning how to handle both. Author: Jen Bryant
SPOILER ALERT: If you don’t want to know a MAJOR thing that happens in this book, don’t read the next sentence!……i hated the part when lesley died it was so horrible but the book was great. Author: Katherine Paterson Reviewer: Joy’e
Joy’e is right, this book is great. She’s also right about that little part she gives away. This book is about a really special friendship between a boy and a girl growing up in rural Virginia. They both have really good imaginations and have a special hideaway they call Terabithia in the woods where they play. This book won the Newbery Medal in 1978. As they say, it’s an oldie but a goodie.
“This is a very good or I mean a very interesting book. It talks about a guy that lived in an orphanage, until one day the Amos’s adopted him. Author: Christopher Paul Curtis.” Reviewed by: Katherine
Bud’s life with the Amos’s is tough and he eventually decides to run away. Bud has some clues about who he thinks his father is and is determined to find him. This book won the The Newbery Medal AND the Coretta Scott King Award in 2000. Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Ramona’s life is going along really well, until one day when her parents are acting a little strange. Ramona and her sister overhear an odd conversation. “…mother and father were no longer talking. Silence filled the house. …There was something unnatural about this silence. Uneasy, they waited for some sound, and then their parents began to speak in whispers.” Ramona knows that whispering is not a good sign. It turns out that Ramona’s Dad has lost his job.
Ramona, being Ramona, has some big ideas – like earning a million dollars by being in a television commercial. For his part, Ramona’s Dad takes a job he really doesn’t like. When that doesn’t work he goes back to school, but then can’t find the job he’s looking for. Eventually, he takes a job as a grocery store manager, which isn’t perfect, but good enough.
When Ramona asks him when they will be a happy family again, he tells her they already are a happy family, that sometimes challenging things happen, even in a happy family like theirs. He is a great lesson for Ramona, and for us. Sometimes things aren’t perfect, but they are good enough. And if you look real hard, you can always start a new list of good things – different things, but still good things. Author: Beverly Cleary
You probably remember reading Mike Mulligan when you were younger – he’s a perfect story to think about if you are looking at a big change. Mike and Maryann lose their job digging. They move from the city to the country to find a job…and eventually take on an entirely different kind of job…but they are all happy just the same. Mike and Maryann find new friends and a new home. Author: Virginia Burton
Don’t forget – tomorrow is the last day you can turn in books for points for the summer reading program!