Friday, February 8, 2013

The Boy on Cinnamon Street

 Stone, Phoebe. 2012. THE BOY ON CINNAMON STREET.  New York: Arthur A. Levine. ISBN 9780545215121 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]

Louise is a “seventh grade soul that’s stuck in a fourth grade body.”  She is little, 4’7”, but planning to grow taller soon. Her size was an advantage as a young gymnast, but she has recently given up gymnastics. Louise (who calls herself Thumbelina) lives with her grandparents and spends time with friends Reni and Henderson, but few others.

When Louise finds a note from a secret admirer (“I’m your biggest fan”) in a pizza box, she and Reni try to discover the culprit and Louise develops a crush on the leading suspect. Although incorrect in her assumption, the notes from the admirer lead Louise on a path that triggers memories and helps her face a tragedy from her past. 

Stone weaves a lovely, melancholy tale in THE BOY ON CINNAMON STREET. She expertly plants clues along the way as to what has happened in Louise’s life.  Readers may guess the identity of the secret admirer as well as piece together the pieces of Louise’s past; however, Stone’s reveal of the truth remains surprising, emotional, and memorable. The characters – including Louise’s loveable, quirky grandparents – are unique and endearing.  Readers will pull for all of them in this charming, gentle romance for middle school readers.

Readers can discuss relationships with grandparents.  They can also write “secret admirer” notes to friends, parents, and even school helpers.  Readers can participate in an art opening like the one hosted by the Elliot family where they display art and share poetry. 

Other novels about middle school heroines in transition:
Dowell, Frances O'Roark. THE KIND OF FRIENDS WE USED TO BE. ISBN 9781416950318
Stone, Phoebe. DEEP DOWN POPULAR. ISBN 9780439802451

By Jill Bellomy

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