My favorite new children’s author is Rebecca Stead.
She 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.