Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010
From the Book Jacket:Gracie is unlike anyone Luke has ever met—fun, charming, imaginative and full of life. But when the truth about her mother’s past challenges local small-town values, Luke finds himself caught up in a whirlwind of confusion and controversy. A striking novel of loyalty, loss, and redemption by celebrated author, Valerie Sherrard.
Summary:When Luke makes friends with Gracie, the daughter of a young widow who has moved in next door, he finds it confusing that the townspeople begin gossiping and even shunning Gracie’s mother. Because it’s 1946, much of what is going on is not appropriate for his ears, so he has to try to figure it out from the bits of information and gossip that he overhears.
My Take:This story was not what I expected from the tornado scene on the cover. This serious story moves at a fairly slow pace that allows the reader to think and absorb the confusion Luke is feeling. Although a tornado does figure in the story, the main storyline is more about bullying, prejudice, and making judgments about others. It raised many questions in my mind as I was reading and really made me think about what it might be like to live in that time period—and how, unfortunately, some of the things we experience in our society today are not as different from then as we might hope.
From a writing perspective, I enjoyed the way the author managed to recreate the time period through the character’s language and the story descriptions. Even though the main character was 11 at the start of the story and the writing is appropriate for the middle grade level, the deeper issues and complexity of this story made me feel it was almost more of a YA novel.
On her blog, Valerie Sherrard talks about how the idea for this story grew from a tiny snippet of something she heard on the news.
This book has won the 2011 Geoffrey Bilson Historical Fiction for Young People Award, the 2011 Ann Connor Brimer Award, and received a bronze medal in the 2011 Independent Publisher Book Awards, Canadian Regional.
This book is nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading in the Silver Birch (Fiction) category for 2012. In case you didn’t catch it, last week I profiled Ghost Messages by Jacqueline Guest, another one of the nominated books.
Other books by this author include:
Miss Wondergem's Dreadfully Dreadful Pie (Oct. 2011)
There's a GOLDFISH In My Shoe! (2009)
There's a COW Under My Bed! (2008)
The Glory Wind (2010)
Tumbleweed Skies (2009)
Young Adult NovelsTestify (August 2011)
Three Million Acres of Flame (2007)
Sarah's Legacy (2006)
Sam's Light (2004)
Shelby Belgarden Mystery Series
Searching for Yesterday (2008)
Eyes of a Stalker (2006)
Hiding in Plain Sight (2005)
Chasing Shadows (2004)
In Too Deep (2003)
Out of the Ashes (2002)
For more, go to Valerie Sherrard’s website.