Author: Lord, Cynthia
When the state of Maine moves to shut down their island's one-room schoolhouse because of dwindling enrollment, Tess, 11, a strong believer in luck, and her family take in a trumpet-playing foster child, to increase the school's population.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.40
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 138805
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 49821
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Kirkus Reviews (07/01/10)
School Library Journal (09/01/10)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (09/10)
The Hornbook (+) (11/10)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2010 Life on Maine’s small Bethsaida Island is all that eleven-year-old Tess has ever really known, so she’s appalled at the possibility that the declining student population may result in the closure of the island’s school and her family’s subsequent move to the mainland. In order to keep enrollment up, several island families, including Tess’, decide to take in foster children. The prospect of a ready-made brother in thirteen-year-old Aaron initially intrigues Tess, but she has second thoughts when the uncommunicative, moody newcomer fails to embrace her family as she had expected. Lord writes with polish and tenderness of the small island community, where lobstermen conduct their social lives over the airwaves, where the bad apples are utterly known and completely unavoidable, and where Tess is determined her future lies. The foster-child scenario (based, according to the author, on a real historical happening) offers a useful counterpoint to the sentimentality often found in the subject (Tess, in fact, has to let go her Anne of Green Gables-inspired dreams); the story credibly depicts Aaron as wary and legitimately angry, alert in a way that Tess can afford not to be to the role other people’s convenience has always played in his life, while showing flashes of likability. The readily booktalkable concept will draw reader interest, and they’ll stay for the solid storytelling. DS - Copyright 2010 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 09/01/2010 Gr 4–7—Tess Brooks, 11, believes in luck, wishes, and superstitions. When the state of Maine threatens to close her Bethsaida Island school because there aren't enough students, she and her family will be forced to move to the mainland, and Tess loves her island life. Reverend Beal comes up with an idea to expand the school population, and the Brooks family does its part by taking in a 13-year-old foster child. Tess doesn't give up hope even though Aaron is unhappy on the island and longs to return to his mother. Tess grows significantly throughout the novel as she learns that things don't always go according to a plan, but that they still have the capability of working out. Each chapter opens with a different saying that is used in the context of the story, which keeps readers guessing about its significance. They will feel an enormous amount of hope as they read Tess and Aaron's story. It delivers the message that everything happens for a reason, and that sometimes all you need to do is believe.—Rebecca Webster, Warren County Middle School, Front Royal, VA - Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 08/01/2010 Eleven-year-old Tess doesn’t want to leave her island home, but her family will have to move to the mainland if the state of Maine closes their small schoolhouse for lack of students. To increase their numbers, several families take in foster children, and so 13-year-old musician Aaron, who has bounced around since his grandmother’s death because his mother is an alcoholic, comes to stay with Tess’ family. Tess pins all her hopes on Aaron, but he is not at all what she expected: he doesn’t like reading, he throws up on her dad’s lobster boat, and he’d rather stay in his room than play Monopoly. Each chapter title is a folk saying that superstitious Tess follows as she wishes and schemes a way for Aaron to love island life. Aaron’s relationship with his foster family, particularly with impulsive Tess, develops believably. The tight-knit community and lobster-catching details make for a warm, colorful environment. This is a feel-good story about letting go of your expectations and accepting the good things already in front of you. - Copyright 2010 Booklist.