Marsden's (The Gold-Threaded Dress) affecting novel centers on 11-year-old Gregory, an earnest Navajo boy who relocates with his mother and baby sister from the Bird Springs reservation to a Tucson motel. Marsden gradually reveals the story behind their move: after severe drought had forced most residents to leave the reservation, the boy's father (who had physically abused his wife) drove off in his truck and never returned. With no water to drink, Gregory's mother took her children and boarded a Tucson-bound bus. In his new school, Gregory struggles to acclimate to his alien, unsettling new life; during social studies, "as Mr. Best showed pictures of the pyramids from different angles, Gregory closed his eyes to Ancient Egypt. The world was mysterious enough already." However, the fifth grader does make two friends-Matt, a bighearted, gutsy classmate, and a caring art therapy teacher, each of whom helps Gregory adjust to his new life and accept the loss of his old one. Marsden creates some decidedly poignant moments: erroneously thinking he has spied Dad's truck passing by, Gregory eagerly wheels his sister's stroller through the city streets in search of him. In the novel's final scene, at once wistful and hopeful, the boy decides it is time for a long-overdue haircut and, acknowledging that his father will not return, opts for only a trim in order to keep his hair long-like Dad's-as he spots auspicious rain clouds in the distance. Ages 8-up. (May)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Bird Springsby Carolyn Marsden
Eleven-year-old Gregory and his family had to leave the Navajo reservation at Bird Springsthe only home they've ever knownand move to a motel in Tucson, Arizona. Gregory misses his absent father, but he likes school, particularly art class with the kind teacher. He also makes a new friend, Matt, who promptly informs him art class is really art therapy
Eleven-year-old Gregory and his family had to leave the Navajo reservation at Bird Springsthe only home they've ever knownand move to a motel in Tucson, Arizona. Gregory misses his absent father, but he likes school, particularly art class with the kind teacher. He also makes a new friend, Matt, who promptly informs him art class is really art therapy and that Gregory is staying in a shelter, not a motel. Even though Matt can be outspoken, he's just what Gregory needs now. He's honest and generous with his allowance so they can ride the Ferris wheel at the carnival.
Award-winning author Carolyn Marsden paints a poignant story of a little boy who, as he confronts the more painful aspects of his past, is filled with a sense of hope.
Gr 3-6 - When a two-year drought forces the inhabitants of a Navajo reservation at Bird Springs to relocate, 10-year-old Gregory and his mother and baby sister take up temporary residence at a shelter in Tucson. Gregory feels the pressure of being the man of the family as he attempts to adjust to a new school and care for his little sister while his mother works nights and weekends. Feeling out of place in his new surroundings, he relies heavily on his imaginary friend to keep him hopeful about the future. Especially hard is the ambivalence he feels about his father: on the one hand, he longs for him to return and provide solutions to the challenges they face; on the other, he has witnessed his father physically abusing his mother. Gregory is also confused about one of his classmates, Matt, whose swings between kindness and mockery can be bewildering. The boys tentatively explore friendship, and Gregory's impulsive attempt to save Matt from danger provides a turning point in their ability to trust one another. Marsden packs a lot into a small package. The novel's short length, engaging male protagonist, and theme of the tension between fitting in to a new group while remaining true to oneself all combine to make this an appealing selection for reluctant readers.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VACopyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Meet the Author
Carolyn Marsden is also the author of Mama Had to Work on Christmas and the award-winning books The Gold Threaded Dress and Silk Umbrellas. She lives with her family in La Jolla, California.
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