MacLachlan (Edward's Eyes) delivers a strong, spare novel about the power of writing to transform. When a famous writer visits a fourth-grade classroom, she helps five friends discover how writing can help make sense of their lives. Many of the most humorous scenes emerge in contrast, such as when Russell asks about outlines and the author dismisses them, advice that clearly contradicts that of the frowning teacher ("Miss Cash closed her eyes as if her head hurt"). The writer's flamboyant enthusiasm appeals, but the five friends and their quiet, realistic journeys are the star, including Lucy, who "doesn't think her life is very interesting," except for sadness about her mother's cancer, and Evie, who longs to set up her newly separated father and invents a flirtatious character for a new neighbor, only to learn the woman is a nun. Fans of MacLachlan will recognize her work among the excerpts read by the visiting author. The writing produced by the characters effectively complements their development, and the novel's message that everyone has a story in them should inspire readers to explore that idea firsthand. Ages 8–12. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/17/2010 Release date: 05/01/2010 Genre: Children's
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