Author: Perkins, Lynne Rae
Teenagers in a small town experience new thoughts and feelings, question their identities, connect, and disconnect as they search for the meaning of life and love.
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 5.50
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 101361
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 5.40
Points: 13.0 Quiz: 38358
Newbery Medal, 2006
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 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 5 → 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
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Range of Reading & LEvel of Text Complexity
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Craft & Structure
Kirkus Reviews (+) (08/15/05)
School Library Journal (09/05)
Booklist (+) (10/15/05)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (09/05)
The Hornbook (+) (09/05)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2005 Novels with a specific plot may be the easiest to describe, but they’re not necessarily the best books. Sometimes a title manages to address some of the aspects of life that are most difficult to describe yet important to experience. And if you’re Lynne Rae Perkins, you can remain comfortingly, invitingly accessible even as you explore abstract notions such as the possibilities within us, the possibilities between us, and our openness to both.
That’s the underlying theme in this chronicle of a neighborhood’s summer, where a set of young teens turn to thoughts of change: Debbie wishes ‘something different would happen. Something good. To me,’ while her old friend Hector contemplates the future: ‘He felt himself changing, but into what?’ Hector takes guitar lessons in the hope of capturing some charismatic magic and conceives a crush on a cute classmate; Debbie hangs out with her friend Patty, loses a necklace with her name on it, yearns for hunky Dan, and ends up helping an old lady around the house, which leads to an entry-level romance with the old lady’s grandson. Throughout, kids hang out together in configurations that hold a flickering undercurrent of meaning and that might start to mean other things; moments sometimes reach their potential of significance and sometimes slide by, making way for other possibilities.
Occasional references suggest a setting of a few decades ago, but this is hardly a historical novel: it’s set any time when kids can hang around together and look at one another anew as they grow. The narrative ripples fluidly into occasional structural variations such as dialogues or side-by-side columns of simultaneous experience, and there’s a recurring Midsummer Night’s Dream allusion (Debbie fixes on Dan because he’s the first thing she sees as she awakens to the world, while Dan hovers between staying, conceptually, a donkey and turning into something better) that will slide by most readers but tickle the knowing few. Perkins’ thumbnail art, sketches, and interpolated snapshots function sometimes as diagram, sometimes as editorial comment, sometimes as illustration, and add to the dimensionality of the experience. The book’s feeling remains uncomplicated, though, with such variations merely a meander through interesting territory to look at things a different way. Perkins is the mistress pluperfect of plain speech that conveys ethereal concepts (‘Debbie had been separated from her moorings and there was a spongy piece of her left open to the universe in whatever form it might take’), and she brilliantly captures the adolescent-level Zen that thoughtful kids bring to their assessment of the world (and of which adults often have lost the habit). This isn’t a book so bogged down in the ineffable as to be uneventful, however; there’s Debbie’s romance and heroic intervention when her old lady falls ill, her necklace’s wandering trip around town, Hector’s increasing absorption and skill in songwriting. Mostly, though, this is a book that masters replication of the way life incorporates events into a larger context rather than consisting of them, and the unforced, leisurely rhythm allows the richness of the individual characters’ thoughts and experiences to predominate over plot points.
Ultimately, Criss Cross reassures as it explores. By focusing on the crucial questions of early adolescence (Can I be in reality the person I imagine being? Do we connect with one another?) it grants them significance; by answering them gently with a tacit ‘sometimes’ it allows for the possibility of such achievements at another time even if young readers (and the rest of us) don’t always manage them now. And it’s good to hear that ‘mistakes would have to be made. Maybe a lot of mistakes. It was okay. They can’t hear me, but I want to tell them it’s okay, they’re doing just fine.’ It’s a glorious thing, ‘waking up on a midsummer night.’ Or any time. - Copyright 2005 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 09/01/2005 Gr 6-9-The author of the popular All Alone in the Universe (HarperCollins, 1999) returns with another character study involving those moments that occur in everyone's life-moments when a decision is made that sends a person along one path instead of another. Debbie, who wishes that something would happen so she'll be a different person, and Hector, who feels he is "unfinished," narrate most of the novel. Both are 14 years old. Hector is a fabulous character with a wry humor and an appealing sense of self-awareness. A secondary story involving Debbie's locket that goes missing in the beginning of the tale and is passed around by a number of characters emphasizes the theme of the book. The descriptive, measured writing includes poems, prose, haiku, and question-and-answer formats. There is a great deal of humor in this gentle story about a group of childhood friends facing the crossroads of life and how they wish to live it. Young teens will certainly relate to the self-consciousnesses and uncertainty of all of the characters, each of whom is straining toward clarity and awareness. The book is profusely illustrated with Perkins's amusing drawings and some photographs.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2005 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 10/15/2005 *Starred Review* This lyrical sequel to All Alone in the Universe (1999), a Booklist Editor's Choice, begins with one of many black-and-white drawings and a caption that reads, People move back and forth in this area like molecules in steam. As the title and caption imply, this story reads like a series of intersecting vignettes--all focused on 14-year-old Debbie and her friends as they leave childhood behind. Perkins writes with subtle, wry humor about perceptive moments that will speak directly to readers: universe-expanding crushes, which fill the world with signs and wonder; scornful reappraisals of childhood things (Debbie's disdain for Nancy Drew is particularly funny); urgent concerns about outfits, snappy retorts, and self-image. Perkins adds many experimental passages to her straightforward narrative, and she finds poetry in the common exchanges between teens. One section of dialogue, written entirely in haiku, reads, Jeff White is handsome, / but his hair is so greasy. / If he would wash it--. A few cultural references set the book in the 1970s, but most readers will find their contemporaries in these characters. Best of all are the understated moments, often private and piercing in their authenticity, that capture intelligent, likable teens searching for signs of who they are, and who they'll become. - Copyright 2005 Booklist.