Monday, January 14, 2013


Sometimes, you just need to revisit an old friend. That's what I did this week. I went back and reread TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord. I had read the book a couple of years ago, but lately, maybe because I'm about to become an "empty nester," I have been thinking a lot about my boys and the journey we have taken as a family. Lots of times, I think, people kind of "romanticize" the life of kids who have been in the foster care system. I loved the movie, THE BLIND SIDE, for example, but Michael Oher's experiences, at least as they are portrayed in that film, don't match my boys' reality in any way, shape, or form. Even though foster care might sometimes be the best alternative for kids, it's still incredibly hard, and leaves deep and long lasting scars, that aren't fully healed, even many years later.  Cynthia Lord captures that beautifully in TOUCH BLUE. Here are some of my favorite lines:

“Do you think Aaron’s mom misses him?”
“I expect so. It’s very hard to know you’ve hurt someone you love. But his mom had a lot of chances to make this right, and she didn’t do what she needed to do. She didn’t show up for meetings or to take her drug tests.  I guess the judge decided it was time to stop giving the chances to the parent, and start giving the chances to the kid.” pp. 52-53

People say it’s better to know the truth, but what if the ending’s a bad one? Is it still better to know? Or is it kinder to keep that string of hope dangling? To believe that maybe if you just wait long enough, everything could still end the way you want? p. 86
I notice something sparkle near my feet among the tangles of rockweed. I reach down a palm-sized circle of blue sea glass, just the bottom of a bottle. Once it was someone’s trash, but now the ocean has tumbled it all smooth and beautiful.  p. 2
Dad shifts the cooler in his hand. “This is going to take work, Tess. We need to earn his trust. We need to be stubborn.”
I tip my chin up to look at him. “I thought being stubborn was a bad thing.”
He smiles. “Not always. Stubborn can also mean, ‘I won’t give up on you.’”  Pp. 51-52

My mom would never miss seeing me in a concert. She’d write it on the calendar and be there in time to get a good seat. I imagine what it might be like for Aaron: standing up at the end as the audience applauds, but she’s not there. Or unwrapping his trumpet that Christmas morning and not being able to hold it up and show it to her.  Or seeing his birthday cake in front of him and she’s not telling him to make a wish. But it’s all a big white blank in my imagination, because I can’t even pretend what it would feel like to not have my mom at those times. 95

I also enjoyed two new picture books by one of my all-time, absolute favorite author/illustrators, Kadir Nelson. I'll be using these in a presentation on intermediate grade picture books in a couple of weeks.

And then my dear friend, Kyle, introduced me to  BLACK DOG by Levi Pinfold, which I also absolutely love.  A terrific book for enjoying, also for including in a mini-lesson on theme. And I love the illustrations, wish this one would win the Caldecott…

As far as professional reading, I'm still lugging around BOOK LOVE, which I read over break, and revisiting that on a pretty much daily basis. And the leadership team at school is reading LEVERAGE LEADERSHIP, so I'm working my way through that book.

This week's pile includes COLLATERAL by Ellen Hopkins. I picked it up thinking it was YA, but it's actually an adult novel in verse, about a young woman who falls in love with a soldier/poet. I'm only a few chapters in, but am loving it so far.


GatheringBooks said...

The Blind Side is one of my absolute favorite films - I must have watched it four or five times now, and I never get tired of it - if this book is as good as you say it is, I'm in. This must be the fourth time that I've seen Black Dog - I'm very excited to read it. :) Have a great reading week ahead of you!

Linda B said...

Carol, If I've read Touch Blue, I don't remember it, so thank you for telling about it again. There are 5 adopted children (grown now) in my brother's and my family, & each one has a personal story (of course). One of my brother's children was 14, out of the foster system & he has had to go through a lot to love his life, I guess I might say. He is a successful policeman now, doing wonderful work like the csi science & loves it, has a great wife & 4 great kids. All the others are in good spots in their lives now too. And-I loved Black Dog, too. If you read my review, you'll see that I really am puzzled about 'what' it is, or is doing. Really fascinating, & I got it from the library, but think I may have to own this one! Thanks for sharing!

Beth S. said...

I can't wait to read the Nelson Mandela book by Kadir Nelson. He's coming to my local indie this week. I can't wait to meet him.

Stacey Shubitz said...

I've been waiting to read the new Nelson book. Can't wait to see it!

Thanks for sharing your favorite lines, too! I was unfamiliar with the book, 'til now.

Beth said...

Black Dog looks like a great picture book -- I'll start looking for it.