Tuesday, July 06, 2010
ROCKY ROAD by Rose Kent
I have been anxious for this new book by Rose Kent to be released for a while. After having read and loved KIMCHI AND CALAMARI, I was so happy to receive a copy of ROCKY ROAD from Random House.
ROCKY ROAD is the story of Tess Dobson and her family. Her mother, who has patterns of good and bad days, decides to move the family from Texas to Schenectady, New York to open an ice cream shop. Tess is worried about the plan and has trouble supporting it at first. But, they make the move and start working on the shop that mom has decided to name, "A Cherry on Top". Lots of obstacles and surprises are in store. Tess isn't immediately happy with the apartment that they've rented as it is in a senior citizen building. Tess is the one who has to do most of the caring for her younger brother, Jordan, who is deaf, while her mother gets the shop ready to open. And the downtown area where Tess's mother has decided to put the ice-cream shop is a run-down part of town which might make it hard to find customers.
But, slowly things start to come together for Tess and her family. She makes great friends in the apartment building--a genuinely caring community who takes in and supports Tess and her family. Tess finds friends and a place to contribute in school and she eventually gets involved in helping out with "A Cherry on Top." And Tess's mother does amazing work to pull together a unique business that brings energy back to the city. Although everything isn't perfect and the problems Tess faces are big ones, things get better for her and she grows up a bit through the process.
Rose Kent does a great job of dealing with hard issues in the context of a middle grade novel. In this novel, Kent addresses many hard issues that are part of life. She does so in a way that makes them very accessible to 9-12 year olds. She helps us, as readers, see people for who they are beyond the troubles they have. She is brilliant at creating characters we care about. I found myself not only caring deeply about Tess, but also caring about the community that is supporting her.
The ice cream theme throughout the book is a fun one. My family, like Tess's, loves ice cream. It was fun to be part of a family creating an ice cream shop similar to those we love around here! Throughout the book, ice cream shop tips are included and at the end of the book, recipes for some of the ice cream treats sold at the store are shared. Rose Kent also includes information about what your favorite kind of ice cream tells about you!
I love the way that Rose Kent combines something as fun as ice cream with difficult life issues. A great combination that works well. I think this would be a great book for book clubs in upper elementary classrooms. I am sure kids will have lots to think and talk about. And they would have no trouble deciding on a snack for the book club to enjoy while chatting!
Posted by Franki at 5:35 AM