Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thirteen Plus One

It's the first week of school and I am celebrating with a week of Middle Grade reviews.

Lauren Myracle, I can't quit you. 

If I was ever going to write a YA novel, I'd have to pick a new plot because so many of the things I'd want to write about are included in Thirteen Plus One. I'd be bummed if Myracle wasn't such a great writer.

Winnie, our heroine since she was eleven years old, is finally fourteen and preparing for high school. Her sister is leaving for college, her relationship with Lars is evolving, and she and her friends are trying to figure out who they are. The only solution? Volunteer doing sea turtle rescue on Pawley's Island, SC. I've done turtle rescue with students in Costa Rica and the author really nailed the experience. The communal living, the strange hours, the rules about protecting the turtles were all included (the only things missing were the zillions of mosquitoes).

The reason I keep coming back to Lauren Myracle's novels is her gift for dialogue. Her characters speak exactly like my students. While I imagine the books won't age well, they are so completely current that it would be easy for a middle school reader to believe that Winnie and her friends were real people. The writing shows students that it is possible to be poignant and clever and thoughtful using the latest slang and vocabulary.

I'm curious about how many more installments there will be in the Winnie series. Part of the joy of the books is their innocence. I would be perfectly happy for this to be the close of the books on Winnie, as long as Lauren Myracle promises to write many more other novels for me to enjoy.

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