by Patricia Reilly Giff
Wendy Lamb Books (Random House), 2008
review copy compliments of the publisher
What could possibly motivate an eleven year-old, who doesn't yet read, to want to become a reader?
Sam puts his time in every day in the resource room (when he hasn't sneaked outside instead). Anima reads aloud to him every night, "If he can't read yet, one thing we can do while we try to help him is to give him the world of books." Mack teaches him that the ability to "read" wood, to repair wood and to build with wood, is a rare and valuable talent. Still he doesn't read.
It's Sam's eleventh birthday. He's looked everywhere for hidden presents. Everywhere except the attic. He doesn't find any presents in the attic. Instead, he finds a mystery -- a newspaper clipping that shows a picture of him as a three year-old. The only word he can decipher from the headline is "missing." What does this mean? Does he not belong with his grandfather? Who is his family? What do the dreams and memories that have begun to haunt him mean? Who can he befriend at school who will help him solve this mystery?
Patricia Reilly Giff has woven a beautiful story of family, friendship, dreams, and longing. We have all had a Sam in our class. With this book, Giff reminds us to be patient, to try every approach, to encourage every talent, and to realize that it may, in the end, be nothing that we, as teachers, do that will lead our Sams to reading.
Reviewed by Jen Robinson as part of MotherReader's 48 Hour Read in June and at Charlotte's Library.