Thursday, July 3, 2008

Along Came Spider

Along Came Spider by James Preller
Middle grade fiction should be like a "nest box". Carefully constructed, accessible, written for the "different species...all competing for nesting places". Along Came Spider is a "nest box".
I laughed out loud when Trey tried to answer the "trick" question about if he was finished sharpening his pencils. He used the classroom poster's tips for Creating Smiles (Say Something Nice to Someone) "Mrs. Wine, you are Awesome...and you rock!" Preller tells an everyday story with eloquence and empathetic grace. These ordinary (amazing) kids are growing up -- daily making their own way, raised by parents, guided by teachers and events. Often in groups, always alone, trying to figure themselves and others out. No under or overstated angst here, the author just tells us about it, and lets the characters speak. Here's a couple more of my favorite quotes from Along Came Spider:
"The kettle whistled; it didn't particularly care if anyone whistled back..."
"Ms. Lobel, you rock..."
"You have good observation skills, Spider, see things..."
"You know...I think a nest box is like this library. It's a safe, clean,quiet place...This place is my nest box..."
"They didn't know about the future, or where it would take them, but nobody ever does..."
Reviewed by Nan Hoekstra, read in uncorrected proof. Thank You Shannon Penney at Scholastic. Thanks James Preller, for (another) outstanding contribution to literature for precious children.

1 comment:

La-la said...

I felt like I was back in 5th grade with the friends thing goin on. I could feel for Spider, but also for Trey, who I identified with even more because he saw things a bit different. What a character. I didn't 'get' the book until I was more than half through.. but I did get it.
Friendships are fragile and friends are precious and hard to find, for some, but when you have them you are very lucky indeed. I loved the chair and the stool... A very good book for all of us to read.
I give this one 4 1/2 *****