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Reaching for Sun
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Reaching for Sun

4.3 6
by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

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Josie Wyatt knows what it means to be different. Her family's small farmhouse seems to shrink each time another mansion grows up behind it. She lives with her career-obsessed mom and opinionated Gran, but has never known her father. Then there's her cerebral palsy: even if Josie wants to forget that she was born with a disability, her mom can't seem to let it


Josie Wyatt knows what it means to be different. Her family's small farmhouse seems to shrink each time another mansion grows up behind it. She lives with her career-obsessed mom and opinionated Gran, but has never known her father. Then there's her cerebral palsy: even if Josie wants to forget that she was born with a disability, her mom can't seem to let it go. Yet when a strange new boy—Jordan—moves into one of the houses nearby, he seems oblivious to all the things that make Josie different. Before long, Josie finds herself reaching out for something she's never really known: a friend… and possibly more. Interlinked free verse poems tell the beautiful, heartfelt story of a girl, a family farm reduced to a garden, and a year of unforgettable growth.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
Josie, a girl with cerebral palsy, lives on the shrinking farmland owned by her family for generations and now being sold to developers. Her mother works and attends college and her grandmother tends her diminished patch of land. The story is told in the seventh-grader's voice in a series of free-verse poems. She is a bright and wry narrator, acutely aware of her limitations and her strengths. When Jordan, wealthy but neglected by his widowed father, moves into a mansion behind her farmhouse, they discover a common love of nature and science, and Josie finally has a real friend. She and her grandmother are both passionate about plants and gardening, and Zimmer does a nice job integrating botanical images throughout the novel. Josie feels like a "dandelion in a purple petunia patch" and thinks, "I must be a real disappointment—/stunted foliage,/no yield." Through growing maturity and Granny's wisdom, she gains confidence in herself. Reaching for Sun will have wide appeal for readers of diverse ability. Reluctant readers will be attracted to the seeming simplicity of the text, with short chapters and lots of white space on the page. They may not even realize that they are reading poetry. More sophisticated readers will find added enjoyment as they begin to appreciate the poetic structure and imagery. Readers of all levels will enjoy spending time with Josie and may gain an increased awareness of what it's like to live with a disability.—Nancy Brown, Fox Lane High School, Bedford, NY

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Josie's cerebral palsy has made her an outsider at school, but at home she is one of three strong women with a rewarding routine. Her mother is working hard to become a landscape designer, leaving Gran to keep the home and garden blossoming. Events unfold in one free-verse poem after another with titles that hint at the narrative but usually work equally well at capturing one distinctive moment in time. Readers gradually learn about Josie and a new-found friend, Jordan, who sees a whole person, not just a disability. Gran becomes ill, Jordan tries out hanging with the in-crowd and Mom has to adjust to new realities. Josie's strength shines as she handles sadness and loss as well as recovery and progress. Readers living with a disability or trying to understand others seem like the target audience, but Josie's voice has a universal appeal. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.09(w) x 7.51(h) x 0.77(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer's first teaching assignment was special education. She taught high school students with autism and middle school children with developmental and learning disabilities. She holds a master's degree in reading education and is the author of a book of poetry, Sketches from a Spy Tree (Clarion). She loves living in Waxhaw, North Carolina, with her family but will always consider Ohio her home.


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Reaching for Sun 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book, and how it is a bunch of poems in one big story. This author is amazing. Keep them coming, please!!!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Josie Wyatt is trying to live as normal a life as possible, but there's one thing that's stopping her--her cerebral palsy.

Josie lives in a small farmhouse with her mother and grandma that is surrounded by huge mansions. Josie's mother is always at work and whenever she's at home she's always busy. Her grandmother loves gardening and never keeps any comments to herself. At school, everyone knows that Josie attends special ed, but when a strange new boy, Jordan, moves into the neighborhood, he never thinks of her as different, just normal.

At the end of the school year, Josie and Jordan have become close friends, and all Josie wants to do is spend the whole summer with Jordan--but Jordan has another plan, which is to go to basketball camp. Josie can't imagine a summer without Jordan and she doesn't know how to cope when her grandma has a stoke.

REACHING FOR SUN by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer is a wonderful novel full of free-verse poems that tell the story of a pre-teen girl dealing with the fact that she has cerebral palsy. I definitely recommend this book for any girls who love to read, and I guarantee that you will love it just like I did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reaching For Sun, by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, is one of the most inspiring novels that I have ever read. This heartwarming novel filled me with joy and happiness. Tracie Vaughn Zimmer truly put her whole heart into writing this novel. Not only was this novel inspiring, heartwarming and encouraging, but it also has a special place in my heart because it is one of my new favorites. I charge all people who know about or want to learn about living with a disability to read this novel. While reading Reaching For Sun I learned from Josie, the main character, about how difficult it is to deal with a disability like Cerebral Palsy. Reading this novel has changed my view on people with disabilities, because now I know how hard it is. Josie is especially challenged with her disability because people don't except her. She is bullied in school and has no friends except her loving Grandmother. One day Josie runs into a boy named Jordan, he is one of the most accepting and loving people anyone will ever meet: "'I've learned this fact for myself: Days spin faster than a whirligig in a spring storm by the side of my new best friends'"(65). Jordan doesn't care that Josie has Cerebral Palsy, he loves her anyways, and because of Jordan's expectance he is one of the best things about of this novel. Josie and Jordan form an unbreakable bond in this novel: "'It's the only place where I don't stick out like a dandelion in a purple petunia patch'"(58). Nobody is perfect and neither are novels, but this is a novel that comes very close to being perfect. One thing I would add to Reaching For Sun would be more detail, more back-round information about the characters. This novel is one of the best and is almost incomparable to all others but if I had to say it was similar to one, it would be The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. The characters in both novels are caring and excepting, both novels have a touching love story in them that fills the reader with joy and sadness. All in all Reaching For Sun is an outstanding novel and truly teaches an amazing lesson about living with a disability. 
jennafoor More than 1 year ago
Very good book! Think about your best friend. You probably didn’t have a hard time meeting them or just being yourself around them. For most people, making friends is something they don’t think twice about, it just comes natural. But there are other people that making friends is quite difficult. Josie, the main character in the book, has cerebral palsy and struggles making friends. She is in a special education classroom and is very embarrassed about it. Josie’s mom keeps making a big deal about her having this disability. Josie just wants to live her life and not be reminded every second that she has something wrong with her. Jordan, Josie’s new neighbor has shown her that she can be herself and not be embarrassed about her disability. Josie gets really comfortable about being around Jordan. Unlike all of the other people in school that just looked, pointed and stared at Josie, Jordan flat out asked Josie if she had cerebral palsy. He was actually asking her questions about it and letting her express her feelings about her disability. Josie starts to struggle with things in her life with the three people that she feels most comfortable around, but she handles them fairly well. Through all of her struggles, her mother tells her that she believes in her. Josie said that it was like sun shinning on her face through all of her troubles she recently encountered. Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking. There are several types of cerebral palsy. Some causes may include bleeding in the brain, and brain injuries. Symptoms of Cerebral palsy include: loss of coordination, abnormal walk, muscle weakness, speech problems, hearing or vision problems, decreased intelligence or learning disabilities, along with several others. The book had a really good moral to the story and incorporated a real life disability to the reader. Even though this book was fiction, it still could have been a real life story and the author really expressed that well. As a prospective teacher, I think that this book would be very helpful in the classroom. If I knew that a student with a disability of some sort was going to be in my classroom, then I would try and use this book. Not only would this help the classmates of the student with the disability, but I think it would help the student with the disability as well. It would help the classmates understand the concept of a disability and make them aware of them. It would put the student with the disability at ease, knowing that the classmates understand more about disabilities and aren’t going to stare and gossip about them. That they know that just because a person has a disability doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. This book would help show my students that just because someone has a disability, it shouldn't control their life and the way people treat them. You should treat someone as a person and not just see them as a person with a disability.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago