Dear Toniby Cyndi Sand-Eveland
When sixth-grader Gene Tucks moves south, she dreads being the new kid at school and almost everything else about her life as a “nobody.” But what she dreads most is the hundred-day journal-writing assignment her teacher has given the class. His brilliant idea is to have the journals locked in the town museum’s vault for forty years so that future… See more details below
When sixth-grader Gene Tucks moves south, she dreads being the new kid at school and almost everything else about her life as a “nobody.” But what she dreads most is the hundred-day journal-writing assignment her teacher has given the class. His brilliant idea is to have the journals locked in the town museum’s vault for forty years so that future grade-sixers can read them.
At first, Gene has trouble writing to someone who isn’t even born yet. But little by little, Dear Nobody becomes Dear Somebody, who evolves into Dear Toni. And bit by bit, Toni, a good listener, becomes a best friend to whom Gene tells everything. And, there’s lots to tell. Gene’s family is in transition to say the least. Her dad is looking for work, they are moving — again, her brother is the bane of her existence, and, more than anything else in the world, Gene wants something she can’t have — a dog. Toni is the first to learn that Gene is moving to a rent-free empty apartment at the back of a gas station, so her dad can manage it. And wonder of wonders, the owner’s dog needs looking after. Not just any dog; a St. Bernard who happens to have three pups. Through Gene’s one hundred entries the whole story unwinds and in the end, just like Toni does forty years later, we have come to know one of the freshest, funniest characters to grace the pages of a book in a very long time.
Decorated with doodles by the author, Dear Toni has the look and feel of a journal, but the heart of a special 12 year old.
In reprinting Dear Toni by Cyndi Sand-Eveland, we applied the incorrect award designation to its cover. Although the book was on the short list, it was not the winner of the 2009-2010 Hackmatack Award. The winning English Fiction title was Dog Lost by Ingrid Lee (Scholastic). We regret the error and apologize to all concerned.
Sixth-grader Gene Tucks has just moved to a new school where she and her classmates are required to write in a journal for 100 days. Once these journals are collected, they will be placed in the local museum's vault for 40 years and then given to the students of a sixth-grade class. Gene is at first reluctant to write to someone who hasn't even been born yet and starts out by calling this hypothetical person "Nobody," soon switching to "Somebody." Eventually she settles on a name for her "pen pal" and begins to imagine that Toni is her friend. Gene's journal takes off from there as the events in her life have more dramatic turns. Her dad gets a job as a mechanic at a gas station, and her family is invited by the owner to temporarily move into the apartment above it. She takes care of their landlord's dog while he is away, along with the three puppies, a task she delights in. During this time she makes friends with a girl who lives in a colorful bus with her free-spirited artist mother. The novel is written in diary format and peppered with often-humorous sketches depicting the various activities, thoughts, pets, and people that make up Gene's life. Girls, especially, will relate to the protagonist and feel as if they are reading personal notes from a close friend.-Donna Atmur, Los Angeles Public Library
The assignment: For 100 days sixth-grader Gene Tucks must write a daily entry in a notebook that will be stored in a time capsule and opened 40 years in the future. At first Gene, who lives in Canada, pens miniscule journal entries (not unlike many of her American counterparts). But over these initial entries, Gene begins to visualize her audience, from a nobody to a somebody to a sixth-grader named Toni, best friend and listener. While Gene reveals her innermost thoughts, the entries are not confessional: They become a funny, honest recounting of this time in her life, when after a spell of unemployment her father gets a job and the family settles in to a free apartment behind the garage where he is the mechanic. Gene takes on responsibility (taking care of dogs), learns to makes friends and to stand up for herself. Aspects of the story are both poignant and palatable for young readers. Gene's story is told in a marvelously authentic voice; delightful doodles accompany the text, which appears printed on faux–notebook paper. A great addition to middle-grade collections. (Fiction. 8-12)
“Both the text and the presentation are highly accessible…. This book would be a great resource for introducing a journaling, time capsule or creative writing project….”
“The novel is written in diary format and peppered with often humorous sketches depicting the various activities, thoughts, pets, and people that make up Gene’s life. Girls, especially, will relate to the protagonist and feel as if they are reading personal notes from a close friend.”
—School Library Journal
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