A New Favorite: Rebecca Stead

My favorite new children’s author is Rebecca Stead.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca SteadShe won the 2010 Newbery Medal for her novel, When You Reach Me, which is the story of a sort of geeky sixth-grade girl, Miranda, who lives in New York City in the 1970s.  After losing her house key and her best friend, she starts getting strange notes, such as: “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own.  I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.”  The messages are odd yet show that the writer knows a lot about Miranda’s life.    The plot is a marvellous puzzle that keeps readers guessing until the end.  A great story for kids and adults alike.

Stead’s most recent novel is Liar & Spy, a contemporary story about seventh-grader, Georges (the “s” is silent, but causes him no end of grief in school), who must deal with bullying, a change of residence when his father loses his job, and a mother who works so much she’s never home.  In his new apartment, Georges meets Safer, a home-schooled boy who accepts Georges into the Spy Club to investigate the strange doings of Mr. X who lives in the apartment above Georges.

As the parent of a seventh-grade boy, I can tell you that Stead knows kids.  The characters are smart and funny and troubled and, more than anything, real.  I loved Georges, and loved Safer’s little sister Candy, and as my focus was on the characters, I was taken completely by surprise at the turn of events in the book.  Wow!  Again, a great book for kids and adults alike.

Stead has also written the novel First Light, which I haven’t read yet.  You can bet I’ll be getting it soon.

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