Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

An Unacknowledged Winner

February20

An Unacknowledged Winner

countingWhile I recognize that every book can’t get, or doesn’t deserve, a special award, there are some books that need to get some recognition so that readers will find them. Those of us who are in the children’s book field need to heavily promote these books to parents and young adults.

When the 2014 Newbery Awards were announced, I was disappointed that one of my recent “favorite” books, Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Dial, 2013), wasn’t mentioned. Sloan’s protagonist, Willow, is the narrator of this realistic story, and she has a unique and profound voice that resonates throughout the story.

I was taken to see an educational consultant that autumn and the woman did an evaluation. She sent my parents a letter.
I read it.
It said I was “highly gifted.”
Are people “lowly gifted”?
Or “medium gifted”?
Or just “gifted”? It’s possible that all labels are curses. Unless they are on cleaning products.
Because in my opinion it’s not really a great idea to see people as one thing.
Every person has lots of ingredients to make them into what is always a one-of-a-kind creation.
We are all imperfect genetic stews.   (Counting by 7s, p.18)

Willow is unique, and depending on your point of view, you will want to be her friend, or teacher, or parent. Her world falls apart when she is in middle school. It’s no spoiler to tell you that in the opening chapter, the reader learns that Willow’s parents die. While this shatters Willow’s world, a diverse group of individuals reach out to save her. It is Willow who saves them and brings out each one’s “giftedness” (my term). Do share this book with a fifth, sixth, or seventh grader, but be sure to read it yourself too.

Holly Goldberg Sloan’s webpage about the book proves that the author is as clever as her character.

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