Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Yesterday I my friend and hero, Dr. Teri Lesesne, posted a short video of herself talking about this year's Newbery winner, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. This struck me as a neat coincidence because I was just thinking about that book and the theme of time. The reason time was weighing heavily on my mind was because I just finished ANOTHER book about time yesterday, also set in NYC, and also appealing to kids about the same age, Antsy Does Time. What a great pair of books!
In case you have not read either or both, When You Reach Me is a wonderful story about friendship. It does take place in NYC though back in the late 1970's so a bit different from today's NYC. The major things going on are a story of a very special friendship, time travel, coming of age, and mystery. It is a little difficult to read this book without being reminded of Time Traveler's Wife because of the time tricks involved.
Antsy Does Time takes place in Brooklyn and NYC. The book has a serious side despite the humorous events and dialogue. Time is again a major theme, though without the supernatural elements of the previous book. Instead Antsy tries to cheer up his pal Gunnar, who confides that he has a terminal illness, by "giving" him time from his own life and enlisting others to do the same. Good-hearted Antsy is a very likable protagonist with his smart mouth coupled with a generous and altruistic nature. By the end of the book he has learned some hard lessons about friendship, honesty, death and the importance of family.
If I had to choose a favorite between these two, I could not do it! I will admit I read both these books with my ears. Neal Shusterman read Antsy himself, and When You Reach Me is well presented by Cynthia Holloway.
Oh and...I think the covers are somewhat similar too. They are both cartoony with elements of the plot featured in a composite. Teri thought the cover of When You Reach Me was off-putting and so did some of her students, but I liked it from the first. Give yourself a nice winter treat and enjoy both of these books!